Posts tagged with "Lock her up!"

Cummings presses for records of ‘Javanka’s’ use of WhatsApp and email for White House business

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.

The Presidential Records Act prohibits senior White House officials from creating or sending a record “using a non-official electronic message account.”

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

Evidence of cell phone spying found near White House

June 1, 2018

A Department of Homeland Security study has detected evidence that controversial surveillance technology—intended to pick up cell phone calls and texts—was in operation near the White House and at other sensitive locations in the nation’s capital last year, The Washington Post reported on June 1. .

The DHS program found the surveillance devices, called IMSI catchers, as part of federal testing last year, according to a letter  from the agency to Intelligence Committee member Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) dated May 22.

The letter did not specify what entity operated the devices and left open the possibility that there could be alternative explanations for the suspicious cellular signals collected by the federal testing program.

The discovery bolsters years of independent research, The Post said, suggesting that foreign intelligence agencies use sophisticated interception technology to spy on officials working within the hub of federal power in the nation’s capital.

Experts in surveillance technology say that IMSI catchers—sometimes known by the popular brand name, StingRay—are gizmos that are used by many foreign intelligence services, including Russia and China.

“This admission from DHS bolsters my concern about stingrays and other spying devices being used to spy on Americans’ phones,” Wyden said in a statement on May 31. “Given the reports of rogue spying devices being identified near the White House and other government facilities, I fear that foreign intelligence services could target the president and other senior officials.”

The DHS letter came in response to a meeting last month in which Wyden pushed for a more aggressive federal response to cellular system insecurity. IMSI catchers are widely used by local, state and federal police, as well as foreign intelligence agencies.

The same May 22 letter revealed that DHS was aware of reports that a global cellular network messaging system, called SS7, was being used to spy on Americans through their cell phones. Such surveillance, which can intercept calls and locate cell phones from anywhere in the world, are sometimes used in conjunction with IMSI catchers.

Wyden’s fears about the White House are based in reality: The president and his aides have used cellphones extensively for communications. While there have been no polls about how the U.S. electorate feels about this unsafe practice, in January, a Morning Consult/Politico poll, of 1,988 registered voters, found that 65% of self-identified Republicans said that the Department of Justice should its investigation into personal cell phone usage for official emails, texts and phone calls.

Hillary Clinton was investigated extensively for her personal cellphone usage while she was Secretary of State. In fact, Trump declared repeatedly during his 2016 presidential campaign that Clinton’s email “negligence”disqualified her to be president.

In January 2016, The Washington Post reported that he said the email scandal was “a disaster for Hillary Clinton. At a minimum, how can someone with such bad judgment be our next president?”

He also released this zinger in July 2016, the Post reported:  “Crooked Hillary Clinton and her team ‘were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.’ Not fit!” His refrain continued throughout the summer.

Even after being elected, Trump demanded that the Justice Department look into Clinton’s emails to determine whether she committed a crime. His supporters still chant “Lock her up! Lock her up!”

Research contact: craig.timberg@washpost.com