House Committee Seeks Details of Kushner's Private Email Use

Updated on
  • Trump son-in-law’s personal account confirmed by his lawyer
  • Private address used for fewer than 100 emails to officials

Jared Kushner’s Rise to Power Mirrors Trump's

The ranking members of the House Oversight Committee have asked the Trump administration to detail whether senior officials have used personal email accounts for government work, after it was disclosed that President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, had been using one on the job.

Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, a Republican, and Democrat Elijah Cummings sent a letter making the request Monday to the White House and 24 federal agencies. Kushner, who is a senior adviser to the president, used a personal email account in addition to his White House account to communicate with other government officials, his lawyer has acknowledged.

Kushner used the private account to send fewer than 100 emails to other White House aides between January and August, Kushner’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said in a statement. Most of the email exchanges were related to news articles and “political commentary,” Lowell said. 

The correspondence "most often occurred when someone initiated the exchange by sending an email to his personal, rather than his White House, address,” Lowell said. “All non-personal emails were forwarded to his official address and all have been preserved in any event.”

Trump made opponent Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and handling of classified information as secretary of state a cornerstone of his attacks on her during the 2016 presidential campaign. Under the Presidential Records Act, all presidential records are required to be archived.

"With numerous public revelations of senior executive branch employees deliberately trying to circumvent these laws by using personal, private, or alias email addresses to conduct official government business, the committee has aimed to use its oversight and investigative resources to prevent and deter misuse of private forms of written communication," Gowdy and Cummings said in their letter.

In their letter Gowdy and Cummings asked for names of any "non-career officials" who have used private email accounts or set up alias accounts to conduct government business. They also demanded details on any use of text messaging and encryption software.

The New York Times reported Monday that at least six senior officials, including former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and former chief White House strategist Stephen Bannon, also occasionally used private email accounts, sometimes on commercially available services such as Gmail.

Clinton’s Response

Clinton, in a SiriusXM Town Hall radio interview, said the revelation is “the height of hypocrisy.”

The existence of Kushner’s private email account was reported earlier by Politico, which also reported that other top administration officials had used private accounts to correspond with Kushner.

Ivanka Trump, Kushner’s wife, also used a personal email account to conduct White House business before she was formally named a White House aide, according to emails released by advocacy group American Oversight. In one exchange, she wrote to Small Business Administration head Linda McMahon using the name Ivanka Kushner from a .com email address regarding women’s entrepreneurship, copying a White House aide who she said was serving as her chief of staff. The group said it obtained the emails in June through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The email exchange with McMahon was before Ivanka Trump had joined the White House staff, according to a statement from the administration. One reason she chose to become a federal employee in March, according to the statement, was “to ensure that she would have access to government-issued communications devices and receive an official email account to protect government records.”

Because the email was to McMahon’s government account, all communication will be preserved and available under the Federal Records Act, the White House said in its statement.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at her daily briefing Monday that White House officials’ use of private email is “very limited.” She said White House lawyers have regularly instructed all White House staff to use their government email for official business.

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