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House Demands Details on White House Private Email Users

A US House of Representatives committee has written to the White House demanding to know how many staffers and Trump administration advisers have been using private emails for government business, following revelations in the media.

Current and former officials told the New York Times this week that at least six of Trump’s closest advisers had “occasionally” used non-government email accounts to discuss official business.

These include Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, former chief of staff Reince Priebus, National Economic Council chairman, Gary Cohn and senior adviser Stephen Miller.

A letter on Monday from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform addressed to White House lawyer Donald McGahn, had the following:

“This Committee has legislative jurisdiction over the Presidential Records Act, as well as the Federal Records Act and Freedom of Information Act. 1 As technology has changed and the use of email and other modem forms of electronic communication have become ubiquitous, the Committee has been active in updating portions of these laws.

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.”

Specifically, the committee wants to know who has been using personal or “alias” email accounts to conduct official business, if anyone has been using encrypted chat platforms to do the same and if there have been any changes to official White House policy on the above since January 1.

The use of private email here is not thought to have been on the same scale as that of Hillary Clinton, who apparently used it to conduct the majority of her government business when secretary of state, but it will still strike many as highly hypocritical coming from an administration which called for Clinton’s criminal conviction.

Clinton was eventually exonerated after the FBI closed its investigation, but has since complained that the high profile probe – which Republicans exploited to maximum effect – partly cost her the election.

An FOI request by ethics watchdog American Oversight revealed that Ivanka Trump used a personal email address to conduct “substantive government work” as recently as March 2017.

American Oversight executive director, Austin Evers, claimed the revelations prove “there’s one rule for the Trump family and another for everyone else.”

“It’s simply breathtaking that both Ivanka and Jared Kushner would conduct government on a personal email account after running a campaign centered on that very issue,” he added in a statement. “The fact that they would brazenly ignore rules governing email use raises even more questions about their judgement and fitness to hold positions in the White House.”

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