The site also posted paintings made by his sonGeorge W. Bush — including purported self-portraits of the 43rd president in the shower and the bath.
A Bush family representative confirmed that the e-mails were stolen but said the family would make no formal statement beyond that.
On Friday, these moments from a famously private family became worldwide gossip. The story tested boundaries of propriety and relevance for traditional news media outlets: At the heart of the story was material that, in another day, might not have been published at all: intensely personal data, gained by apparently illegal means.
The incident also underscored a fundamental contradiction of the Internet age. Millions of Americans rely on the data “cloud” to safeguard the intimate details of their lives, storing them in e-mail inboxes, social-media postings and other digital repositories. People do it despite occasional reminders that, up in the cloud, data can be vulnerable.
On Friday, Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said that the investigation is being led by the agency’s criminal investigative division in Washington. Donovan said he could not release any details about the investigation.
The Smoking Gun said the stolen e-mails it had reviewed were dated between 2009 and 2012. In all, the site said, six accounts appeared to have been compromised. Among those hacked were Dorothy Bush Koch, daughter of George H.W. Bush and sister of George W. Bush; as well as sportscaster Jim Nantz, a Bush family friend.
The e-mails were obtained by a hacker called “Guccifer” and posted in an account “that appears to have been hacked for the purpose of hosting the material,” the Smoking Gun said. The site did not release the full cache of hacked e-mails or provide information about how it learned about them.
“I don’t really want to go into any further details,” William Bastone, the site’s editor, said in a telephone interview Friday. He also declined to say how many e-mails the site had reviewed. “They were posted in an online account, which is where we found them.”
Bastone said he did not anticipate that the site would release more of the e-mails or photos. The site’s next story, he said, might not come until the hacker is caught.
The Smoking Gun report included several quotes from the stolen e-mails, which showed intimate moments from the lives of two ex-presidents who have vigorously guarded their privacy in retirement, including sensitive discussions of George H.W. Bush’s poor health.
But there were also lighthearted scenes from the life of the George W. Bush, who has kept a low profile since leaving office in 2009. Apparently, he has been painting.