Posts tagged with "President Donald Trump"

Tiger Woods swings back with a Masters win

April 17, 2019

It’s been a long time since Tiger Woods last won a Masters tournament—14 years—but Americans love a comeback.

Branding experts say his single-stroke victory on the 18th green during the final round on April 14 at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia also shows that Woods, at 43, is still a winning investment for Nike and his other sponsors, NBC News reported.

Woods delivered $22.5 million in media exposure for Nike during the tournament on Sunday, according to Apex Marketing Group.

“He’s eclipsed what he provided Nike in brand exposure for the four majors last year with just this one major,” Apex President Eric Smallwood told the network news outlet. “He’s got that drive now and he’s playing the best golf he’s played in recent years. I think he’s going to continue to provide Nike with enhanced exposure because the TV is going to follow him.”

President Donald Trump announced in a tweet on April 15 that he would be awarding Woods the Presidential Medal of Freedom: “Spoke to @TigerWoods to congratulate him on the great victory he had in yesterday’s @TheMasters, & to inform him that because of his incredible Success & Comeback in Sports (Golf) and, more importantly, LIFE, I will be presenting him with the PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM!

Bob Dorfman, creative director at Baker Street Advertising in San Francisco told NBC News that Woods’ victory—especially if it is followed by future wins—could go a long way to helping him to re-engage the wide variety of brands he endorsed before a sex scandal and tabloid-ready divorce prompted brands like Gatorade, Accenture, and AT&T to drop him.

“It legitimizes him — there were certainly questions about whether he was still viable,” he said.

This is good news for sponsors seeking a return on their investment, and for Woods’ own bottom line. “I would not be surprised if, in the long run, this win yesterday at Augusta is worth $50 to $100 million in future benefits to Tiger. He will see revenue streams from this win for years to come,” said Rick Burton, the David Falk professor of sport management at Syracuse University.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Tussle over taxes: Mnuchin says Treasury Department won’t release Trump’s returns

April 12, 2019

In a move that bowed to the president rather than American values, the Treasury Department refused to hand over the Donald Trump’s tax returns by the April 10 deadline that had been specified by the House Ways and Means Committee, NBC News reports.

On the one hand, the House committee asserted that § 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code clearly states that it is entitled to receive the tax returns.

Indeed, the law dictates: “Upon written request from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, the chairman of the Committee on Finance of the Senate, or the chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Secretary [of the Treasury]shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request….”

On the other hand, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in a letter to Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts), said that the Treasury was continuing to review Democrats’ request in light of “serious issues” about whether the request is proper.

Neal said in a brief statement only that he had received Mnuchin’s letter and that he was consulting with legal counsel, promising a response “in the coming days.”

In filing a formal request with the Treasury Department last week, Neal had said, “I am certain we are within our legitimate legislative, legal and oversight rights.”

Mnuchin said at a Ways and Means hearing last month that he would protect Trump’s privacy.

 His letter went further, according to NBC News, claiming, “”The legal implications of this request could affect protections for all Americans against politically motivated disclosures of personal tax information, regardless of which party is in power.” Mnuchin said he was consulting with the Justice Department about the legality and constitutionality of Neal’s request.

Mnuchin said that “for the same reasons,” he intended to supervise the department’s review personally.

The president, himself, has insisted that his tax returns are under audit and cannot be released for that reasons. However, according to the network news outlet, tax experts have said that, even if he is under audit, there’s nothing to stop Trump from releasing his returns.

Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, the ranking Republican on Neal’s committee, welcomed Mnuchin’s letter, warning that the request “sets a dangerous precedent.”

“The tax code must not to be used for political fishing expeditions,” Brady said. “The Treasury Department is right to carefully review the privacy impact this request would have on every taxpayer.”

If the request continues to be denied, NBC News said, Democrats could consider legal action.

Separately, Democrats in New York, the president’s home state, introduced a bill in the legislature on Monday that would allow the state to release any state tax return requested by the three congressional committees. The bill would apply only to Trump’s state returns—not to the federal returns that Neal is seeking—but because the president’s businesses are based there, his New York returns are thought to be likely to include much of the same information.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Trump moves to dropkick OPM into oblivion

April 11, 2019

While heads are rolling over at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) this week, Trump has not stopped there.  He also is moving to do what no president has accomplished since World War II— eliminate the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) a major federal agency that oversees the government’s 2.1 million strong civilian workforce, The Washington Post reported on April 9.

Indeed, the Post says, if the administration succeeds at disassembling the OPM—dividing it into functional sections that would be absorbed by other federal departments—the closure could be a blueprint for shuttering other agencies and shrinking the government. For example, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) would take over high-level policies governing federal employees—a plan that advocates and unions already are discrediting as a backdoor ploy to politicize the civil service by installing appointees close to the White House.

The operation is expected to be observed closely—not just on Capitol Hill; but also by other agencies that could be next, and by organizations that support and represent for federal employees. The American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal employee union, with 750,000 members, is calling the idea “Trump’s Dangerous Plan to Abolish OPM” and predicting a “disastrous” result if policy for federal employees moves so close to the White House.

Federal employees “would be forced into a fight for the pay and benefits they’ve earned every time an administration decides they want to free up money for a pet political project,” the union said.

Overall, the plan envisions a smaller, more consolidated government, in line with the president’s campaign promise to “cut so much your head will spin.” Wiping out the federal personnel agency could be part of a list of victories that Trump cites during the 2020 campaign, from deregulation and tax cuts to trade tariffs.

An executive order directing parts of the transition to take place by next fall is in the final stages of review, administration officials told the news outlet, with an announcement by President Trump likely by the summer. The 5,565 OPM employees were briefed about the reorganization at a meeting in March.

“It’s a big, exemplary step,” Margaret Weichert, deputy director for Management at the Office of Management and Budget— and acting OPM director—said in an interview with the Post. She characterized the agency created to oversee the civil service in 1978, as “fundamentally not set up for success, structurally.”

However, for Democrats and their allies in the labor movement, the effort to abolish the agency and redistribute its functions represents a power play in defiance of Congress.

Does anyone really think that, if tomorrow the president said, ‘I’m dismantling DOD, and I think Ben Carson over at HUD can handle procurement and Betsy DeVos over at Education can handle the Army,’ that it would fly through?” asked Representative Gerald  Connolly (D-Virginia.), chairman of a House Oversight Committee panel on Government Operations.

The Post reports that he has sent Weichert a lengthy request for details of the plan and is scheduling a hearing this spring “so you can make your case.”

That’s a request it will not be easy to fulfill: The White House is short on details, even as it prepares to move employees out of OPM’s headquarters in downtown DC. Officials were not able to estimate the short- or long-term savings that would be realized as a result of the closure.

The administration is asking Congress for $50 million in fiscal 2020 to carry out the reshuffling, the Post reported.

Finally, the news outlet pointed out, breaking up OPM is not a Republican idea. The Obama administration discussed internally whether to do it, and so did Hillary Clinton’s team in 2016, civil service experts said. And the agency drew bipartisan fury in 2015 when U.S. officials alleged Chinese hackers stole millions of personnel records by hacking through the agency’s weak security system.

Research contact: @Reinlwapo

Trump’s DHS purge rattles Republicans

April 10, 2019

Now you see them; now you don’t. With DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen ousted on April 7 and Secret Service Director Randolf Alles axed on April 8, even President Donald Trump’s closest Congressional allies are aghast at the purge taking place at the Department of Homeland Security this week, Politico reports.

And the plethora of pink slips may just keep coming. Several more senior officials are said to be in the president’s sights—among them, L. Francis Cissna, the head of U.S. citizenship and Immigration Services and John Mitnik, the DHS general counsel.

It’s a mess,” Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) told the news outlet, summing up the dynamic on the southern border and in Washington, D.C.

The president’s frantic four days of hatchet-wielding at DHS and other agencies has blindsided senior Republicans, who are urging him to stop the bleeding. Republicans note that the president has the right to fire whomever he wants, Politico said, but few offered an explicit defense of his decisions to force out DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen; or remove the Secret Service director and threaten more terminations.

Some are worried about the increasing  influence of top White House aide Stephen Miller—an immigration hardliner whose star seems to be rising in the administration.

Cornyn said he has no idea what Miller’s “agenda” is in determining immigration policy because he isn’t Senate-confirmed and doesn’t correspond with the Hill.

Others believe the president is “losing it,” after backtracking on his threats to close the border, failing to get legal funding for the wall, and losing the court case on separation of families.

“Strikes me as just a frustration of not being able to solve a problem. Honestly, it wasn’t Secretary Nielsen’s fault. It wasn’t for lack of effort on her part. I don’t know if there’s anybody who’s going to be able to do more,” said Cornyn, who spoke to Nielsen on April 8 and planned to speak to her interim replacement, Kevin McAleenan, later in the day.

“I thought that Nielsen was doing a fantastic job,” added Joni Ernst of Iowa, the No. 5 Senate GOP leader. “I would love to see some continuity. I think that’s important.”

Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the most senior GOP senator, is trying to head off even more dismissals as Trump tries to reshape DHS into a “tougher” mold.

In an interview with Politico, Grassley expressed concern that Trump may soon boot U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Lee Francis Cissna and Kathy Nuebel Kovarik, who heads the office of policy and strategy at USCIS.

“I heard that they are on the list to be fired,” Grassley said. “They are doing in an intellectual-like way what the president wants to accomplish. So no, they should not go.”

On immigration, the G.O.P. has not been in lockstep with Trump. So even as the president pursues more aggressive strategies on the border, the party might not stick with him ahead of an election cycle that has the Senate up for grabs and with Republicans eager to take back the House.

“He thinks it’s a winning issue,” said Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the Republican whip. “It works for him. It may not work for everybody else.”

Research contact: @burgessev

Trump ‘cleans house’ at DHS; goes for harder line on immigration

April 9, 2019

President Donald Trump is clearing the decks at the Department of Homeland Securityexecuting a purge of the nation’s immigration and security leadership, The New York Times reported on April 8.

After extracting a resignation from DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on April 7, and immediately elevating White House Adviser Stephen Miller—known to be a hard-liner—to direct the nation’s immigration policy; the president now is signaling that he means to remove the next level of agency management.

Inside the Beltway, it is rumored that Nielsen got the boot because she resisted reinstating a policy that separated migrant parents from their children—infuriating the president at a time when he still is struggling to get funding for his southern wall and has not been able to stem the flow of South American immigration to the U.S. border.

Also expected to leave soon: L. Francis Cissna, the head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; Randolph D. Alles, the Secret Service director; and John Mitnik, the agency’s general counsel.

The White House confirmed the departure of Alles in a statement but made no immediate comment on the other pending moves, the news outlet said. The White House statement said that the president has selected James M. Murray, a career Secret Service official, to take over as director in May.

 Alles “has done a great job at the agency over the last two years and the president is thankful for his over 40 years of service to the country,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said in the statement.

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Nielsen confirmed her resignation on Sunday and Ron D. Vitiello, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Services, was told on Friday to step aside. Trump said on April 5 that Vitiello would be replaced with someone who would move ICE in a “tougher” direction.

All were viewed as allies of John F. Kelly, the president’s former chief of staff and his President Trump.

Alles received instructions ten days ago to come up with an exit plan and was expected to leave on his own timeline, according to officials familiar with the internal discussions. The Times reported that the president had sought Alles’s resignation, in part because of the recent arrest of a Chinese woman who was carrying a malware-laced device on the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort property in Florida, exposing holes in the security of the private club.

Research contact: @nytimes

Dems demand Trump tax returns from IRS—forcing Mnuchin to choose between fealty and duty

April 8, 2019

Although President Donald Trump claims that nobody’s interested in his tax returns—and that they are under audit anyway, so they cannot be released—House Democrats are through taking “no” for an answer—and last week, they set the stage for a major face-off with both the White House and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts) formally requested President Trump’s personal and business tax returns on April 3, setting up what will likely become a protracted and high-profile legal battle between the administration and Congressional Democrats, The Hill reported.

Specifically, in a letter to the IRS, Neal requested Trump’s personal income taxes from 2013 to 2018, as well as the tax returns associated with eight of his business entities, and cited his oversight role to justify the request.

“Under the Internal Revenue Manual, individual income tax returns of a President are subject to mandatory examination, but this practice is IRS policy and not codified in the Federal tax laws,” Neal wrote in the letter, which was first obtained by CNN. “It is necessary for the committee to determine the scope of any such examination and whether it includes a review of underlying business activities required to be reported on the individual income tax return.”

Mnuchin—a loyal Trump insider—now “will have to balance his loyalty to Trump against a request that many experts say leaves him little wiggle room,” The Hill noted. As head of the department that comprises the IRS, Mnuchin will face pressure from Trump and congressional Republicans to push back on Democrats’ request.

“[The] request tests Mnuchin’s oath of office—whether Mnuchin will faithfully execute the laws of the United States, or whether Mnuchin will bend to the will of the president,” commented Steve Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, who testified before Congress in February about the need to request Trump’s tax returns.

Trump — the first president in decades to not voluntarily disclose any of his returns—quickly indicated his disdain for the request. “Until such time as I’m not under audit I would not be inclined to do that,” he said  last Wednesday.

When asked on April 4 if he would direct the IRS to not disclose his returns, Trump said, “They’ll speak to my lawyers and they’ll speak to the attorney general.” 

As is to be expected, Republicans leaders are critical of the request. The top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), argued in a letter to Mnuchin on April 3 that the request is “an abuse of the tax-writing committees’ statutory authority,” and he said it weakens Americans’ right to have their personal information kept private, The Hill reported.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said the next day that courts have ruled that congressional requests for information need to have legitimate legislative purposes, and that he believes the Democrats have fallen short on that front.

“They don’t have a purpose,” he said, according to The Hill. “All they have are a lot of excuses.”

Mnuchin said at a Ways and Means Committee hearing last month that the Treasury Department would “follow the law and we will protect the president as we would protect any individual taxpayer under their rights.”

The Treasury Department has not commented on the tax returns request since it has been issued.

“Secretary Mnuchin should have no involvement in responding to Chairman Neal’s request for President Trump’s tax returns,” Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) said in a statement on April 4, adding, “Tax returns are held at the IRS and it is Commissioner [Charles] Rettig’s job to fulfill the agency’s legal obligations. If Secretary Mnuchin inserts himself that would be blatant political interference.”

Both Mnuchin and Rettig are scheduled to testify at congressional hearings this coming week, and lawmakers are likely to press them about their response to Democrats’ tax-return request. Democrats and supporters of the request say there’s no good reason for the administration to not comply.

Democrats also took issue with Trump’s comments about not providing his returns while under audit, arguing that the statute under which they requested the tax returns doesn’t leave the matter up to him.

“With all due respect to the president, we did not ask him for the tax returns, we asked the commissioner of the IRS,” Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), a Ways and Means Committee member, told The Hill on Thursday.

Republican strategists predict that Mnuchin will get involved and that it will be an easy decision for him to reject Democrats’ request.

“You’ve never seen a Cabinet secretary at that level not fight for the administration,” GOP strategist Ford O’Connell told The Hill. He predicted that Mnuchin is likely to let the issue end up in the courts.

Research contact: @thehill

America will run out of avocados in three weeks if Trump shuts southern border

April 3, 2019

President Donald Trump’s has threatened again this week to close the U.S.-Mexico border, continuing his all-out effort to coerce the political leaders of both nations to block South American immigrants from coming across.

However, even a brief shutdown at America’s southern border would strain the economies of both nations by disrupting billions of dollars in trade, about $137 billion of which is in food imports.

Nearly 50% of all imported U.S. vegetables and 40% of imported fruit are grown in Mexico, according to the latest data from the United States Department of Agriculture.

From avocado toast to margaritas, American shoppers—who are heavily reliant on Mexican imports of fruit, vegetables, and alcohol—quickly would become bereft.

Indeed, the stoppage quickly would become “hard to swallow” for U.S. residents—especially those who love avocados, according to a report by Reuters. Those of us north of the border would run out of avocados in three weeks, if imports from Mexico were cut off, according to  Steve Barnard, CEO of Mission Produce, the largest distributor and grower of avocados in the world.

“You couldn’t pick a worse time of year because Mexico supplies virtually 100% of the avocados in the United Stated right now. California is just starting and they have a very small crop, but they’re not relevant right now and won’t be for another month or so,” Barnard said in an interview with Reuters.

In addition to avocados, the majority of imported tomatoes, cucumbers, blackberries, and raspberries come from Mexico. While there are other sources of produce globally, opening those trade channels would take time.

And shortages of fruit and vegetables will rack up the already-soaring prices at the cash register.

On the other side of the border, Mexico is the largest importer of U.S. exports of refined fuels like diesel and gasoline, some of which moves by rail. It is unclear if rail terminals would be affected by closures.

Research contact: @Reuters

‘There’s nothing routine about this’: Barr moves to send Mueller’s report to Trump

March 29, 2019

More than three in four Americans (77%), including majorities of both Republicans and Democrats, think that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s full report should be released to the public, based on findings of a survey conducted by CBS News and released on March 28.

However, after summarizing the 300-plus-page report in fewer than 1,000 words and coming to his own conclusion on obstruction of justice charges, Attorney General William Barr now has said he intends to hand the document over to the president—instead of to Congress and the American public.

Indeed, according to a story by Business Insider, Barr is taking the peculiar and unheard of step of giving precedence to the sitting president to review and redact a document summarizing an investigation into his own administration’s culpability in Russian interference into the U.S. elections and obstruction of justice.

Typically, the news outlet notes, when the government obtains information that can be protected under presidential privilege claims, it sets up a separate filter team to separate out that information before prosecutors see it. Justice Department veterans said they were surprised Barr chose to forego that option and send the report directly to the White House.

Over a dozen current and former White House officials have given testimony and turned over documents to Mueller, and legal scholars say President Donald Trump’s team could theoretically assert executive privilege over all that information.

The dilemma could put Barr in a difficult position, one former federal prosecutor pointed out to the news outlet: “Say Barr sends this report to the White House and tells them to pull out anything they think is privileged. What if the White House sent back one-third of the report and redacted the rest? What does Barr do with that? Does he just accept it and only release the parts that weren’t redacted, or if he feels like the White House is wrong or abusing their power, does he challenge them?”

“There’s nothing routine about this,” Patrick Cotter, a former federal prosecutor who worked at the Justice Department when Barr was acting attorney general in the 1990s, told Business Insider. “There’s nowhere to look for a precedent to what Barr’s planning on doing here, because there’s never been a report issued under the special counsel statute Mueller’s operating under.”

“I’m not sure why Barr felt this was the appropriate way to go about handling potentially privileged information,” Cotter said, adding, “You shouldn’t be able to use it in a way that gives you an unfair advantage,” Cotter said.

Research contact: @businessinsider

Dems deride Barr’s obstruction of justice conclusion; demand full Mueller report

March 26, 2019

When President Donald Trump’s personally selected and nominated attorney general, William Barr, quickly decided this past weekend that there had been no obstruction of justice during the Russia investigation, Democrats had their doubts.

After all, before his nomination, Barr had deeply damaged his credibility by sending an unsolicited memo to the Justice Department and the White House on June 8 of last year, arguing that Special Counsel Robert Muellershould not be permitted to demand that the President submit to interrogation about alleged obstruction.”

Barr noted at that time, “I know you will agree that, if a DOJ investigation is going to take down a democratically elected President, it is imperative to the health of our system and to our national cohesion that any claim of wrongdoing is solidly based on evidence of a real crime—not a debatable one. It is time to travel well-worn paths; not to veer into novel, unsettled or contested areas of the law; and not to indulge the fancies by overly zealous prosecutors.”

Did Robert Mueller get that message before he decided to demur? And who can blame Democrats for wondering whether—when Barr said the special counsel had not reached a conclusion on obstruction of justice—he was merely grabbing the opportunity that he had hoped to take advantage of all along?

Indeed, Democrats accused Barr of putting his own finding on Mueller’s report, noting that Mueller himself did not exonerate Trump of obstruction of justice, even if he did not explicitly state that Trump had committed obstruction, The Hill reported. 

“A sanitized summary from Trump’s handpicked bodyguard is not acceptable,” said Representative Bill Pascrell (D-New Jersey). “Barr has his finger on the scale to protect Trump. The full report should be released immediately.”

From day one, Trump obstructed this investigation and refused to cooperate. Several of his top aides have been convicted in court. If Trump’s AG won’t hold him accountable for his crimes, it’s up to Congress to investigate,” Pascrell continued, adding that “the ball is now squarely in our court.”

Democrats seeking the party’s nomination to run against Trump in 2020—including Senators Cory Booker (New Jersey)Kirsten Gillibrand (New York)Kamala Harris (California), and Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts)—also called for the full report to be released, The Hill said.

“The American public deserves the full report and findings from the Mueller investigation immediately—not just the in-house summary from a Trump Administration official,” Booker tweeted.

In her call for the full report, Warren cited a House measure earlier this month in which lawmakers unanimously voted for the special counsel’s entire report to be made public.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-New York) said his panel would be calling on Barr to testify, the news outlet reported.

“In light of the very concerning discrepancies and final decision-making at the Justice Department following the Special Counsel report, where Mueller did not exonerate the President, we will be calling Attorney General Barr in to testify before House Judiciary in the near future,” he said.

Trump and the White House seized on Barr’s letter summarizing Mueller’s report as a vindication. “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!” Trump tweeted on March 24 at 4:42 p.m.

Research contact: @the hill

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