Ivanka Trump used private email account to conduct government business: watchdog
Ivanka Trump used her personal email account to communicate with White House and cabinet officials on hundreds of occasions last year, both before and after she became an official member of White House staff, according to screen grabs of emails published by a non-partisan watchdog group.
The emails were unearthed by American Oversight after the group filed Freedom of Information Act requests in March 2017, following them up with lawsuits against four government agencies that refused to share the records.
American Oversight eventually received the records from the U.S. federal government’s commerce, treasury, labour, small business administration and education departments.
White House ethics officials learned of Ivanka’s use of personal email when reviewing emails dug up in response to American Oversight’s lawsuit, the Washington Post first reported on Monday.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s advisers were concerned at the discovery amid fears that Ivanka’s indiscretion was similar to that of Hillary Clinton’s, according to the Post.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly assailed Clinton over her use of a personal email server when she was secretary of state, lambasting her as “Crooked Hillary” and saying she belonged in jail.
The president’s daughter responded that she didn’t know some of the details surrounding the use of email, the Post reported, citing sources aware of her reaction.
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Emails published by American Oversight show Ivanka communicating with the likes of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and treasury official Daniel Kowalski, a counselor to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, using an email address with a “.com” domain name, rather then a government-issued “.gov” address.
The publication of Ivanka’s emails prompted accusations of hypocrisy among critics of the Trump administration.
Philippe Reines, who was a senior adviser to Clinton during her tenure as secretary of state, tweeted: “John Kelly [White House chief of staff] must be compelled to explain to Congress why Ivanka & Jared’s security clearances were granted on a permanent basis despite their email practices being known at that time to the White House as running afoul of security requirements.”
Robert Reich, who served as secretary of labour under the Bill Clinton presidency, tweeted a list of Trump administration members who used personal email to conduct official business before stating, “The shameless hypocrisy of these people never ceases to amaze me.”
Laurence Tribe, professor of constitutional law at Harvard University, tweeted: “You can’t make this stuff up. Not after that gang did the “Lock Her Up!” chant against Hillary for two solid years so Ivanka could become First Daughter. Above the law, just like daddy. Disgusting hardly says it.”
“The president’s family is not above the law, and there are serious questions that Congress should immediately investigate,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight, said in a statement.
“Did Ivanka Trump turn over all of her emails for preservation as required by law? Was she sending classified information over a private system?
“For more than two years, President Trump and senior leaders in Congress have made it very clear that they view the use of personal email servers for government business to be a serious offense that demands investigation and even prosecution, and we expect the same standard will be applied in this case.”
Peter Mirijanian, head of a Washington public relations firm and spokesperson for Ivanka Trump’s ethics counsel Abbe Lowell, said in a statement that the president’s daughter did not delete her emails and kept them in conformity with laws governing the preservation of records, CNN reported.
Mirijanianan also sought to differentiate Ivanka Trump’s use of personal emails with Hillary Clinton’s. He said that unlike Ivanka, Clinton set up a private server and shared classified information in her emails.
“Like most people, before entering into government service, Ms. Trump used a private email. When she entered the government, she was given a government email account for official use,” Mirijanian told CNN.
“While transitioning into government, until the White House provided her the same guidance they had to others who started before she did, Ms. Trump sometimes used her private account, almost always for logistics and scheduling concerning her family.”
Neither Ivanka Trump, President Trump nor the White House have responded to Monday’s revelation.
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