March 25, 2019
Next to MAGA, it is arguable that President Donald Trump’s favorite slogan during his run for office was “Lock her up!”—in reference to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her stint as Secretary of State for the Obama administration.
So who would think that anyone who served on his campaign—or within the Trump administration—would consider using private email or texts for government business? Much less individuals from the president’s immediate family?
However, now that it has come to light that Trump senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner has “has been using the messaging application WhatsApp as part of his official White House duties to communicate with foreign leaders”—a direct quote from his own lawyer, Abbe Lowell— and that Trump senior adviser and First Daughter Ivanka has been using her private email for similar reasons, House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) wants an explanation.
He also wants copies of the relevant messages for “a bipartisan investigation into the use of personal email and messaging accounts by non-career officials at the White House in violation of the Presidential Records act and White House policy,” he said in a letter to the president’s counsel, Pat Cipollone, on March 21.
In the letter, Cummings asks that Cipollone indicate by March 28 whether the White House will comply voluntarily, NBC News reports. If not, he says, he will resort to “alternative means” to obtain the information.
In the letter, Cummings accused the White House of “obstructing” his committee’s work and called the officials’ practices a potential violation of federal records laws.
The letter is part of an initial strategy by the committee chairman to use his powers to pursue lines of inquiry that have had past bipartisan support, according to committee aides who spoke with NBC News.
In March 2017, then-Republican Oversight Chair Jason Chaffetz (Utah)joined Cummings on a letter to the White House requesting information on any use of non-official email accounts being used by its officials.
White House spokesperson Steven Groves acknowledged receipt of the letter. “As with all properly authorized oversight requests, the White House will review the letter and will provide a reasonable response in due course,” Groves said.
In a letter responding to Cummings on March 21, Lowell disputed he ever told the committee that Kushner had communicated with foreign leaders through any app, the network news outlet said. “I said he has used those communications with ‘some people’ and I did not specify who they were,” said Lowell, noting that Kushner has numerous “friends and contacts abroad.”
He also insisted that Kushner “follows the protocols (including the handling of classified information) as he has been instructed to do.”
In addition, Lowell disputed reports that Ivanka Trump continued to use personal after becoming a senior adviser to her father.
Cummings’ letter said that in October 2017, White House lawyers briefed committee staff and said several employees had acknowledged failing to forward official records from their personal email accounts within 20 days, but refused to identify who they were.
According to NBC News, the committee’s request for information is part a broad swath of demands Cummings has made of the White House. In his letter, Cummings noted that the White House has not “produced a single piece of paper” on this or any other investigation. The broad range of inquiries include questions about the administration’s immigration policy at the Mexico border, as well as hush money payments Trump made to a porn star during the 2016 election.
Research contact: @HeidiNBC