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Jared Kushner has Used Private Email Account to Conduct White House Business

Jared Kushner has Used Private Email Account to Conduct White House Business

Do. Not. Use. Your. Account.

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If you work in the government, DO NOT USE YOUR PRIVATE EMAIL ACCOUNT TO CONDUCT ANY BUSINESS. Why is this so hard to grasp?!

After spending years of griping at failed Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for using a private email server and account for business as secretary of state, we have now learned that President Donald Trump’s senior advisor (and son-in-law) Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have used a private email account to conduct official White House business.

Politico reported that the publication “has seen and verified about two dozen emails.” That’s one too many. Four people close to the situation told Politico that “Kushner uses his private account alongside his official White House email account, sometimes trading emails with senior White House officials, outside advisers and others about media coverage, event planning and other subjects.” His lawyer Abbe Lowell said:

“Mr. Kushner uses his White House email address to conduct White House business. Fewer than a hundred emails from January through August were either sent to or returned by Mr. Kushner to colleagues in the White House from his personal email account,” Lowell said.

“These usually forwarded news articles or political commentary and most often occurred when someone initiated the exchange by sending an email to his personal, rather than his White House, address,” Lowell added. “All non-personal emails were forwarded to his official address and all have been preserved in any event.”

Former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, former chief strategist Steve Bannon, National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, and spokesman Josh Raffel have sent emails to Kushner’s private account. Some of them even started email chains to the account. The discovery also showed that Priebus and Bannon used their own email accounts.

As of now, no one knows if “Kushner has shared any sensitive or classified material on his private account, or that he relies on his private account more than his official White House account to conduct government business.” Those close to him insist Kushner “prefers to call or text over using email.”

Watchdog group received documents through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that shows she used her private account to email Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Linda McMahon. However, this a push since the exchange occurred in February, a month before Ivanka became an official employee. From The Hill:

Ivanka Trump wrote that she wanted to “explore opportunities to collaborate” with McMahon’s department on “women’s entrepreneurship,” according to the emails released under FOIA.

“Dina [Powell, the White House deputy national security director] and I are very excited about your focus on women’s entrepreneurship and would love to assist you in any way we can,” Ivanka Trump wrote.

The documents show Ivanka Trump exchanged the emails with McMahon about a month before she became an official government employee, though she had been involved with high-level meetings within the administration. However, Ivanka Trump copied her chief of staff, Julie Radford, on the emails. In them, Radford has a White House email account.

“Ivanka Trump was not a federal employee in February. She elected to become a federal employee in March. At the time she did so, she made clear that one of her reasons for doing so was to ensure that she would have access to government-issued communications devices and receive an official email account to protect government records,” said a White House spokesman. “Prior to obtaining an official account, Ivanka’s communication to Administrator McMahon’s official account ensured the records were preserved and available under the Federal Records Act.”

Politico reported that Kushner and Ivanka Trump set up their family domain in late 2016 before they moved to Washington.

Byron Tau at The Wall Street Journal pointed out on Twitter that the Hillary fiasco and the Kushner news has similarities, but there are differences. First off, investigators found classified information on her private server and she deleted numerous emails.

However, he suspects “some oversight body will want to know if anything classified was on Kushner account or whether he destroyed material.”

And honestly, after the Hillary email scandal, can you blame them? I can’t. DON’T USE YOUR PRIVATE EMAIL ACCOUNT.

Politico explained why this could be a problem:

Private email traffic among White House aides — some of it sent between personal email accounts rather than to or from government addresses — could skirt the requirements of the Presidential Records Act, which requires all documents related to the president’s personal and political activities to be archived. Trump himself is not known to use email but occasionally has email messages to his assistant printed and presented to him.

Lowell said Kushner has adhered to government record-keeping requirements by forwarding all the emails to his account, though POLITICO could not verify that.

Other White House officials have also sometimes used personal accounts to correspond with Kushner and with each other, according to emails seen by POLITICO and people familiar with Kushner’s correspondence. They have also used encrypted apps like Signal and Confide that automatically delete messages, prompting former press secretary Sean Spicer in February to issue a warning to communications staffers that using such apps could violate the Presidential Records Act.

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Comments

Both Kushners have proven themselves too stupid to be allowed any voice in the administration. ANYONE who uses private e-Mail for government business after the last year is too dumb to survive long in the world. Once the campaign was successful on the first Tuesday last November, the use of private e-Mail for anything government involved was pure stupidity.

    Milhouse in reply to Edward. | September 26, 2017 at 10:27 am

    Don’t be silly. This is a completely unreasonable demand, impossible to fulfil. The issue is intent to evade scrutiny, not occasionally sending a message from the wrong account, let alone sending personal email, which is not government business, from ones personal account.

      Lowell said Kushner has adhered to government record-keeping requirements by forwarding all the emails to his account, though POLITICO could not verify that.

      The current EO requires that either a government email be used or the email be forwarded to a government email account that will log it.

      This may be bad form, but it’s not illegal.

      It gets even more convoluted when the government employee has a campaign position, because (as I understand) campaign communications are exempt from the governmental reporting requirements. (probably because political opponents could FOIA them and look for anything that could be warped into dirt)

      So you have Bob the Government Employee with (email/Phone):
      A) A .gov email address for dealing with work.
      B) A .gop.net (or whatever) account for campaign time.
      C) A Trump.com (or whatever) account for dealing with previous job emails.
      D) Their Gmail account for personal email.

      Account A would be subject to federal email retention, and C might be subject to business retention policies. I would presume Bob could auto-forward all C emails to A to comply with reporting requirements, which is most probably what Kushner has done.

        With respect to option C (company.com account), the people who are now working in the WH should have closed their access to the business account. They may not be able to delete the account due to business retention requirements, but the IT department could change password and access.

        Many of the people said they would stop working in the business in order to work in the WH.

        We’ve all changed email accounts – some people you tell your new address and some you don’t.

What’s that thing you can’t fix…???

And even very smart people are prone to it.

What are you talking?

There is nothing wrong with forwarding an email that contains a link with information from your personal email toward your work email. This is expected behavior. This gets the information into the official stream.

Having long threads off the official system is the problem. It looks to me like he is doing exactly what he should be doing.

That was downright stupid.

But did the delete it or erase a server under subpoena?

Hillary would have skated if she hadn’t erased the server. It would have been embarrassing, but not unprecidented.

Well as long as there was no intent to do anything wrong it’s all good….
J. Comey

    Yes, it is. Remember, what was the whole point of the fuss about Clinton’s email? Why did anyone object to her using her own server? It was because her purpose in doing so was to keep secrets, to hide what she was doing in her official capacity, which is against the law. Remember it only came to light when the Congressional committee subpoenaed her email related to Benghazi and State replied that there wasn’t any because she’d done it all on her private server. That’s a crime. Inadvertently sending the odd work-related message from the wrong account isn’t.

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have used a private email account to conduct official White House business.

This does not seem to be true, at least going on what has been published so far.

As you yourself pointed out, Ivanka sent mail from her private account when she was a private person, therefore: (a) By definition it could not have been official White House business; (b) What other account should she have used?

Jared, from what has been reported, seems to have sent only non-business email. Forwarding a link to a news or opinion article, or sharing your private comments on it, is not official White House business, and there is no reason to have it on a .gov server.

Finally, to expect no official business to go out from a private account is completely unreasonable. You cannot possibly be serious in demanding it. If you have work and private accounts, I will guarantee 100% that you have from time to time sent a message from the wrong account. The most common way it happens to me is that someone sends something work-related to my personal address, and I reply. Let’s say it’s an urgent message and they want to make sure I see it, so they send it to all my addresses. I try to remember in such cases to change the “From:” header before sending my reply, but I don’t always remember. Often I notice half a second after I hit “Send”, and see it going out with the wrong header. So I move the sent message from my “sent” folder to the work account’s “sent” folder, but it’s not on the work server so if I ever have to search for it I won’t find it.

This can happen to anyone and it’s unreasonable to expect it not to. And it’s in no way even in the same universe as Clinton routinely using her private server, for the express purpose of evading FOIA and the government records laws, which can only be because she had things that she didn’t want coming to light. This is just the Clintons playing their old old game of “everyone does it”. They played this over and over during their White House stint, leading me to quip that patriotism may be a scoundrel’s last refuge, but “everyone does it” is his first.

    Excellent points

    Both Jared and Ivanka had businesses which they turned over to others to run. So, to establish new email accounts would be expected to have a clean break with correspondence between their old and new “lives”. And I would hope that they no longer have access to the old accounts via a password change.

    Is a new administration in transition given a .gov email account before January 20th? So were some of the emails written before that time? Those emails could have been “White House” business but more in the transition stage and are those emails required to be saved? I don’t know.

    Were the emails started by Jared? If someone wanted to start some mischief, what better way then to send something to the personal account and then leak such information.

    Technically, political activities are prohibited by the Hatch Act of 1939 (An Act to Prevent Pernicious Political Activities), so only using a government email account could, in fact, be illegal at times.

      Neo in reply to Neo. | September 26, 2017 at 11:19 am

      Lowell said Kushner has adhered to government record-keeping requirements by forwarding all the emails to his account …

      On further reflection, the way Kushner has configured his email is perfect of a White House employee who may be a ‘political operative’ from time to time.

      By using a private email account and forwarding all the emails to his government account, Kushner meets the required of the EO on compliance with the Federal Records Act and avoids even the appearance of violating the Hatch Act by not using government equipment to send any possibly political emails. (Last I checked, sending political emails to a government email system is not against the law).

      Liz in reply to Neo. | September 26, 2017 at 11:30 am

      I think there are specific record retention rules for publicly traded companies, so sending private-business emails to someone with a company account is not a good idea.

      When I joined a board for a club, the use of emails for club business, including sending financials and minutes, was just starting. I noticed that a few people used their business account. I objected to these email addresses since that could open the club up to some big problems if the wrong person located and used the information. We started a new rule for the board and email addresses.

This is much ado about nothing. Using a non-“.gov” email account for any communication which may be related to government business is the same as sending a letter discussing government business on personal stationary, using a personal phone line for the same purpose or even, heaven forbid, the unrecorded face-to-face meeting [possibly in the backroom of Kelsey’s tavern].

It only becomes problematic if the person is using a communications account which is specifically set up to CONCEAL the identity of the government official and hide such communications. This would infer that the person wished to keep these communications secret.

At the moment, government workers are NOT required to wear body cameras which provide a record of all of their face-to-face communications [except for some law enforcement], nor to make any official record of such contacts. They are not required to file a copy of any and all written communication in which they make mention or discuss any business related to their job. They are required to file copies of OFFICIAL government documents and OFFICIAL communications directly related to them. But, maintaining records of every conversation in which official business may be discussed is usually not required. If a person calls a friend to discuss their hemorrhoid problem and casually mentions setting up a lunch date to discuss government business, should this entire communication be saved for posterity?

Now, I’m glad that Servergate was brought up. The biggest problem with HRC’s private server was not that it was private [everyone knew that she had it and it would have been subject to confiscation in any case where a violation of law was suspected, but that it housed classified material while not being secured to the level required by the government and that HRC, and others with access to the server, disseminated classified material improperly or illegally. We found this out by perusing the stored emails of the recipients, not from HRC’s server.

The whole point of trying to make every communication that any public official or employees does available to the public is to provide an easy means to obtain “gotcha” information. It does nothing to stem the possibility of sensitive or classified information from being disseminated. It does nothing to stop, or even hinder, actions being taken based upon this communication. It exists ONLY to be used against the official at a later date. Investigators and prosecutors love it.

Remember the big push to use encryption for personal emails [PGP] and personal documents back in the 1990s? The reason for that was because every Tom, Dick and Ivan, with a computer, some hacking skills and time on his hands could obtain and sort through a person’s electronic communications and glean an incredible amount of information. Know why it died out? Because our government, and governments around the world, stifled it. Why would anyone stifle a reasonable means to provide for personal communications security? That’s right. It is done in order to make it easy to obtain information which can be used to the detriment of the person communicating.

    Milhouse in reply to Mac45. | September 26, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    Now, I’m glad that Servergate was brought up. The biggest problem with HRC’s private server was not that it was private [everyone knew that she had it and it would have been subject to confiscation in any case where a violation of law was suspected,

    On the contrary, nobody outside her circle knew about it until the Benghazi committee asked State for her email related to that incident and was astonished to be told there wasn’t any because she used her own server for all business.

      Everyone who received an email from HRC’s account KNEW that she was using that account. And, many of her emails were recovered from individual accounts belonging to other private individuals. HRC’s account was only “secret” in that it was outside the control of the State Department. Then, of course there was her government IT guy, who set-up and ran the server, all of her aides, etc. The purposes of the bathroom server were to prevent people from accessing her stored emails without her knowledge or consent and to make it more difficult to track her contacts and obtain her emails. Unfortunately, email is stored by the recipient’s server as well as the senders.

caseoftheblues | September 26, 2017 at 10:04 am
Well as long as there was no intent to do anything wrong it’s all good….
J. Comey

Milhouse… you need to lighten up because clearly you didn’t recognize the sarcasm and poking fun at Comey and that whole corrupt process that my post was about….

Nonsense Mary. You cannot prevent someone from sending an email to you on your private account if they know it. Kushner’s email was common knowledge from the campaign, so it was essentially guaranteed that he’d get some emails directed there. His duty at that point is to push the thread back into the official email system, or do document it there if the sender (or others on the thread) are not on the official email system.

What would you do if your employer’s email system went down, but you had to get an important message or file to a client right away? Would you wait patiently for the system to come up, or use your Gmail account to send it? This has happened to me, and there is no question that you do what you have to do. So please don’t suggest that the “private email” bugbear should dictate our actions. Do the right thing, and tell the concern trolls to go hang.

He wasn’t selling influence, at least.

Being America has a 2-tier justice system, he gets a pass in any event.

buckeyeminuteman | September 26, 2017 at 12:53 pm

“Don’t cross the streams!!” Also, shouldn’t we all hate nepotism? What exactly are this Kushner guy’s credentials besides marrying Trump’s daughter? The two of them ought to stay far away from DC.

    Why should they? The only relevant qualification for their jobs is that the President trusts their advice, and they have that in spades. And no, when it comes to presidential advisers why should we hate nepotism? What could be more natural than his relying on those closest to him? Which married president in history has not regularly confided in and consulted his wife? Would we even want a president who doesn’t do that?

    His credentials are that he’s one of the limited number of people in Washington who almost certainly aren’t trying to stab the President in the back.

    When doing any job, you use the tools you have, not the tools you want. And you tend to prefer the tools which aren’t trying to slice off your fingers.

Funny how liberals are so interested in email habits now isn’t it?

As always once the initial furore dies down we will be left with the reality that Kushner did absolutely nothing illegal (intentional or not) BUT if course by then politico and the rest of the Democrat propaganda arm will have moved on to their next outrage.

OleDirtyBarrister | September 26, 2017 at 1:59 pm

If I were elected POTUS, the first thing I would do is turn off the e-mail system. E-mail is nothing but a thorn to executives everywhere, including Bill Gates, and his company made it mainstream technology. (I am referencing e-mail that Gates sent and which was produced in discovery during the WordPerfect litigation and elsewhere).

The second thing I would do is turn off the computers and pass out the refurbished IBM Selectric III typewriters. Try and hack that!

Unless there’s some “avoiding the appearance” rule that applies, this does not bother me much.

There seems to be a great deal of confusion here. The esteemed author of this post writes:

“If you work in the government, DO NOT USE YOUR PRIVATE EMAIL ACCOUNT TO CONDUCT ANY BUSINESS. Why is this so hard to grasp?!”

Probably because we have three separate but co-equal branches of government and then different levels of government; federal, state, and local, each one subject to entirely different laws.

One of the more stupid non-issues that the press tried to make into an issue during the last election cycle was that it turns out that Jeb Bush also used a private email server when he was in “government.” So the Praetorian Guard media said, “Aha! See, Republicans, one of your candidates did the same thing, what’s the big deal?”

The big deal was that Jeb Bush was not a federal employee like Clinton and therefore by definition was not subject to the Federal Records Act. As governor of Florida his private server was entirely legal under state law. Would it have been legal in another state? Dunno, we have 50 states plus the District of Columbia (for now, it’s named after an evil white genocidal maniac I’m told by the left). They all have different laws. As a non-federal employee he couldn’t have possibly violated the Espionage Act with his email habits, while Clinton as a federal employee clearly did (I’m not going to elaborate on this for what should be obvious reasons).

Congresscritters work in government. They routinely use private email to conduct constituent support activities. This is their business. It’s no secret; many of them have their g.mail or other private accounts printed right on their business cards. And it’s perfectly legal. They’re not subject to the Federal Records Act. That’s a law they passed to regulate the activities of the executive branch departments which Congress created.

The Constitution says nothing about a Department of the Treasury or of Labor or for that matter even a Cabinet. Those were formed over time as Congress agreed with the President that he had a need for such assistance to execute the laws passed by Congress as well as to fulfill his constitutional duties.

Those lower level executive branch departments are answerable to Congress because they were created by Congress. But the office of the President itself is not a creation of Congress. It’s a creation of the Constitution. So I’d really like to know what oversight body the WSJ’s Brian Tau imagines exists?

Yes, there’s a Presidential Records Act. But the Presidential Records Act contains provisions that state that nothing in the act is intended to limit (or expand) a former or incumbent’s claim of a constitutionally-based privilege. This had to be included because otherwise the PRA would be an unconstitutional infringement on the separation of powers. No act of Congress can intrude on a separate, co-equal branch’s own constitutional powers.

So rather than say, “If you work in the government, DO NOT USE YOUR PRIVATE EMAIL ACCOUNT TO CONDUCT ANY BUSINESS…”

Say, “If you work in the government, OBEY ALL APPLICABLE LAWS GOVERNING PRIVATE EMAIL USE.”

I hold no special regard for Jeb Bush, but he obeyed the law when it came to his private server while Hillary Clinton did not. Even though they both did almost exactly the same thing and therefore the media tried to paint all Republicans (including voters) as hypocrites for condemning one but not the other. Bush and Clinton were regulated by two entirely different sets of laws; maybe that was too hard for journalism school grads to understand.

    Milhouse in reply to Arminius. | September 27, 2017 at 4:07 am

    we have 50 states plus the District of Columbia (for now, it’s named after an evil white genocidal maniac I’m told by the left).

    Actually it isn’t. Christopher Columbus was a crackpot and a bad person, and shouldn’t be honored, but DC wasn’t named in his honor, because the fashion for idolizing and mythologizing him didn’t start until several decades later. DC, like Columbia College, was named for the female personification of America, patterned after Britannia for Great Britain and Marianne for France.

    (Yes, the name derives from Columbus, but the district and college are not named for him, any more than Christchurch is named for Jesus, New Jersey for Julius Caesar, or Boston for St Botwulf of Thorney.)

Bush – What private server?

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