Ruh-roh. After an entire presidential election cycle in which email and the appropriate use thereof was a determining factor, you would think everyone involved in government would be extra careful about their CCs. But apparently, a couple of the higher ups in the Trump administration didn't get the memo. The president's son-in-law and senior White House adviser, Jared Kushner, has been using a private email account to conduct White House business, according to a new report.
Politico reported on Sept. 24 that Kushner had used a private email account to communicate with other White House officials, including former chief of staff Reince Priebus, former chief strategist Steve Bannon, and National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, as well as outside advisers about White House business. The exchanges reportedly discussed issues such as media coverage and event planning, as well as other subjects, but there was no indication that Kushner had shared sensitive or classified information via the account. The magazine said they had seen and verified about two dozen of the emails.
The account is reportedly via a private family domain Kushner set up with his wife Ivanka Trump late last year, during the transition period after the November 2016 election. Ivanka Trump also has an account on the same domain, but there's no indication she used it for official business.
Hm. Public figure, private email domain. Government business. High level correspondence. Why does this all sound so familiar?
If you're thinking, wait, isn't that pretty much what the Trump campaign slammed Hillary Clinton for doing during the 2016 presidential election? Why, yes. Yes it is.
Clinton suffered heavily during the campaign from reports that she had misused a private email server while serving as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013. The allegations of misuse stemmed from questions over whether she had shared, knowingly or otherwise, any classified material via the private server. Federal regulations that require correspondence by federal officials via private email addresses to be transferred onto a public server weren't enacted until after Clinton left the state department, but the use of the private server hit the then-presidential candidate hard on issues of transparency and trustworthiness.
Trump criticized her for the mistake heavily during (and after) the campaign, nicknaming her "Crooked Hillary" and calling her a liar.
In a speech only a few days before the election, Trump called Clinton "corrupt" and referred to her email scandal as "criminal and illegal conduct that threatens the security of the United States of America." He said,
She lied to Congress, she lied to the FBI, she made 13 phones disappear, some with a hammer.
So, uh, it's a little ironic that now his administration is getting called out for using private email in pretty much the same way. Of course, everyone on Twitter thought the same thing.
But her emails.
Abbe Lowell, a lawyer for Kushner, told Politico in a statement on Sunday that the emails did exist, but were innocuous. He said,
Mr. Kushner uses his White House email address to conduct White House business. Fewer than 100 emails from January through August were either sent to or returned by Mr. Kushner to colleagues in the White House from his personal email account. These usually forwarded news articles or political commentary and most often occurred when someone initiated the exchange by sending an email to his personal rather than his White House address.
Kushner's not even the first member of the Trump administration to use a private email server, despite the hypocrisy.
The Indianapolis Star reported in early March that Vice President Mike Pence had used a private email account (an AOL account, if it could get any better) to conduct public business as governor of Indiana, including at least one email regarding homeland security and terror charges. Pence's email account was revealed to be hacked at one point, with hackers sending out a phishing email attempting to get money wired to the Philippines.
Of course, neither then-Gov. Pence nor Kushner are believed to have shared federally classified material. But Kushner's account in particular may run afoul of those regulations requiring all official correspondence to be documented on public servers. Lowell told Politico that Kushner had followed the rules by forwarding all the emails to his public account, but the magazine notes that they can't verify that.
Also problematic? It's hard to know how secure the server is, as Kushner's representatives declined to offer details. Private accounts are less secure than government ones, and hacking was a concern during Clinton's email scandal as well. (Clearly, the risk of hacks affected Pence too.)
Of course, no two political scandals are created equal. Kushner's use of private email, or even Pence's, definitely isn't a one-to-one with Clinton's. But is it hypocritical to use it at all?
Well, Twitter sure thinks so.
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