Some of Donald Trump’s closest advisers have reportedly used private emails to conduct official White House business – a practice which Trump hammered Hillary Clinton for during the presidential campaign.
Citing current and former officials, The New York Times reported Monday at least six of Trump’s advisers, including the president’s former chief of staff Reince Priebus, occasionally used private email addresses to conduct official government matters.
The news comes after Newsweek reported the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump used a personal email address for White House business when she was an unpaid Trump administration adviser.
Republican and Democratic leaders of the House Oversight Committee have requested more information on the reported use of personal email address by some of Trump’s aides. The request also follows a report by Politico on Sunday that Trump’s son-in-law and close adviser, Jared Kushner, used a private email server to conduct government business.
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Politico reported that Kushner had exchanged emails with senior White House officials such as then-chief of staff Priebus and former chief strategist Steve Bannon. The New York Times also reported Bannon had occasionally used a non-government email account to conduct official business.
Trump’s campaign against Hillary Clinton and her email investigation
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly attacked Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton for setting up a private email server as secretary of state, a decision that prompted an FBI investigation that shadowed her for much of the campaign.
Some of Clinton’s messages were later determined to contain classified information.
Ten days before the election, then-FBI Director James Comey announced he had reopened an investigation into whether Clinton had mishandled classified information. After reviewing the emails again, Comey announced just two days before Election Day that he determined Clinton should not be prosecuted. Clinton went on to blame Comey, among others, for her stunning defeat.
Difference between Trump’s aides and Clinton use of private emails
As the New York Times points out, it’s not illegal for White House officials to use a private email account to conduct government work as long as the work-related emails are forwarded to their government accounts so it can be made public if needed, archived and available for government oversight.
The White House acknowledged the use of private emails by staff as being “very limited.”
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“White House counsel has instructed all White House staff to use their government email for official business and only use that email,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Monday.
READ MORE: Hillary Clinton email scandal timeline
It’s unclear how many emails were sent by Trump staffers and how frequently the non-government accounts were used for official business.
As for Clinton, the former secretary of state used a private email server to send and store thousands of government related work and classified information and she did not have a government account set up in her name. Her staff turned over thousands of emails to the State Department in 2014. Clinton’s team said non-work related emails were deleted.
Comey said Clinton was “careless” with classified information but noted her actions did not warrant criminal charges.
Sanders would not say whether the White House would release Kushner’s private emails that dealt with government business.
–with files from the Associated Press, Reuters