Rep. Trey Gowdy’s (R-S.C.) House committee is calling for a review of White House email practices in the wake of a New York Times report that at least six members of the Trump Administration used personal email accounts to conduct official government business. Members of the House Oversight Committee asked for more information and instructed White House officials to “preserve all official records and copies of records in your custody or control.”
On Monday, the New York Times reported that Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and advisor, had sent about 100 work emails using a private email account. Former White House strategist Steve Bannon, former chief of staff Reince Priebus and advisors Gary Cohn and Stephen Miller also occasionally used private email accounts per the report. Ivanka Trump, the wife of Mr. Kushner, was reported to have used a private email account for government business while she was an unpaid White House advisor in the first months of the Trump Administration. The use of the private emails began in the transition period and continued as late as August.
The Times points out that government officials are supposed to use government email accounts for their official duties to preserve a record for oversight and later access for the public, but that it is not necessarily illegal to use a private account. If a private account is used, the work-related emails must be forwarded their work accounts for preservation.
A major issue in the 2016 campaign was Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server in her position as Secretary of State under President Obama. Clinton sent classified information using her unsecure private email system, which is illegal. 33,000 Clinton emails were never accounted for.
Gowdy and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) sent letters to Kushner and the other White House officials named in the report. The Associated Press reports that Kushner was specifically asked for a list all of the private email addresses used, a list of all official emails sent using the private accounts and for security information about the “home-brew” private email system used by Kushner and Ivanka Trump.
White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “All White House personnel have been instructed to use official email to conduct all government-related work. They are further instructed that if they receive work-related communication on personal accounts, they should be forwarded to official email accounts.” Sanders said that use of private email accounts was “to my knowledge, very limited.”
Abbe Lowell, Kushner’s lawyer, told the AP that Kushner’s use of personal emails primarily involved the forwarding of news articles and political commentary in the first months of the Administration. Lowell said that all work-related emails had been forwarded to the official account and “all have been preserved in any event.”
There was no indication from the White House or Mr. Lowell as to whether Kushner’s emails would be released to the public.