A top House Democrat started an investigation Monday into White House senior adviser Jared Kushner’s use of a private email account for official business, asking the president’s son-in-law to preserve all his communications and turn over his list of contacts and other records.
In a letter to Mr. Kushner, Rep. Elijah Cummings, Maryland Democrat and ranking member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said it is “unclear” from recent press reports whether he complied with a federal law requiring White House employees to forward any private emails pertaining to official business to their government email account.
As if to justify his inquiry, Mr. Cummings noted that “Republicans members of Congress expressed shock and outrage when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used a personal email account.”
Mr. Kushner’s lawyer acknowledged Sunday that he has occasionally used a private email account for correspondence with fellow administration officials. He said fewer than 100 emails from January through August were sent to or returned by Mr. Kushner to colleagues in the White House from his personal account.
Using a personal email account is legal, as long as the government official sends the correspondence to his or her government email account within 20 days — a law that was amended in 2014 after Mrs. Clinton’s notorious use of a private email server in office, which contributed to Mr. Trump’s accusations of “Crooked Hillary” and campaign chants to “lock her up.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the use of private email accounts by West Wing employees is “very limited” and strongly discouraged.
“White House counsel has instructed all White House staff to use their government email for official business, and only use that email,” she said. “We get instructed on this one pretty regularly.”
Also Monday, Newsweek reported that Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and Mr. Kushner’s wife, used a personal email account to communicate with a member of the Trump’s administration, a month before she officially accepted a job as a presidential adviser.
The watchdog group American Oversight obtained documents through the Freedom of Information Act that show Ms. Trump used a personal email account to email Small Business Administration head Linda McMahon in February. She wrote that she wanted to “explore opportunities to collaborate” with Ms. McMahon’s department on “women’s entrepreneurship,” according to the report.
Politico reported that Mr. Kushner and his wife set up their private family domain late last year before moving to Washington from New York.
Mr. Cummings noted that he and former Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz asked White House Counsel Don McGahn on March 8 whether any senior White House officials used unofficial email accounts to conduct official business. On April 11, he said, White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short sent a response stating: “There are no senior officials covered by the PRA [Presidential Records Act] with multiple accounts.”
“This statement appears to be inaccurate,” Mr. Cummings wrote to Mr. Kushner, “although it is possible that Mr. Short was referring to senior officials with multiple official governmental email accounts and that he did not know about your personal email account at the time he wrote this letter to the Committee.”
In addition to requesting the preservation of documents, Mr. Cummings asked Mr. Kushner to provide email addresses for all private accounts he used to conduct official business, a list of all emails he sent or received on non-governmental accounts to conduct official business, and information about the security of the private domain he and his wife have been using.
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