By Bianca Taipe
Jared Kushner, White House Senior Adviser and Donald Trump’s son-in-law, used a private email account to conduct government business according to reports by Politico on Sunday, September 24. Although there has been no evidence of classified materials exchanged, Kushner’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, said that Kushner’s private email and personal account were used “to communicate with other government officials”.
NPR reported that Kushner set up the private email address “to handle unofficial communications”. Abbe Lowell said in a statement that “fewer than a hundred emails” were exchanged through Kushner’s private email to White House colleagues on topics related to news coverage and political commentary. His attorney confirmed that the exchange of emails through Kushner’s personal email “often occurred when someone initiated the exchange by sending an email to his personal, rather than his White House address”.
BBC notes that the emails were exchanged between Kushner and fellow administration officials regarding “media coverage, event planning and other subjects”. Although the emails have been confirmed by Politico to be relevant to government business, BBC says “there is no indication that Mr. Kushner shared classified or privileged information through his private email account”. Lowell stated that the content of the emails were “usually forwarded news articles or political commentary”.
Politico reported that Kushner’s personal email was established in December, raising concern whether the emails exchanged for government business were preserved. According to USAToday, the President Records Act dictates when an executive branch employee uses a private email address for official business, they must copy their official government accounts in the exchange – or forward any messages from their private accounts to their official account within 20 days. Kushner’s attorney stated that his “non-personal emails were forwarded to his official address”. Although Lowell states that the emails have been forwarded, it has yet to be confirmed true.
Jared Kushner isn’t the first adviser in the Trump administration to utilize private email accounts. According to The New York Times, “at least six of President Trump’s closest advisers occasionally used private email addresses to discuss White House matters”, Officials in the Trump administration including former chief of staff Reince Priebus, former chief strategist Steve Bannon, and economic adviser Gary Cohn have utilized private email servers to conduct White House business. President Trump’s daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump, was also caught in the action of using a private email. Newsweek reported that Ivanka used her email “to communicate with a government official after her father took office”.Documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), revealed that prior to becoming a federal employee, Ivanka was “identifying herself as Ivanka Kushner” in a personal email when communicating with Linda McMahon, the administrator of the United States Small Business Administration.
It is still unclear whether Kushner, Ivanka Trump, or the White House officials discussing government business over private emails will be the focus of a Congress-led investigation. Private emails continue to be an issue in politics and whether or not the Trump administration will fall into turmoil is dependent on whether the actions will be investigated.