WASHINGTON — Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill will be scrutinizing Ivanka Trump’s personal email use in the White House in light of new revelations that she sent hundreds of messages about government business from that account last year.
On Tuesday, senior Republicans and Democrats called for the White House to provide more information about the email account and the nature of the messages President Donald Trump’s daughter exchanged.
Reports last year by Politico revealed that Ivanka Trump’s husband, Jared Kushner, and other White House officials had been using private email for government purposes. That triggered a Republican-led congressional probe into a possible violation of the Presidential Records Act and other federal record-keeping laws.
The issue resurfaced this week when The Washington Post reported that the president’s daughter, while serving as a top White House adviser, sent hundreds of emails about government business from a personal email account. The emails sent last year, were to White House aides, Cabinet members and Ivanka Trump’s assistants, many in violation of public records rules, according to The Post.
Chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee Sen. Ron Johnson, and Rep. Trey Gowdy, the outgoing chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, sent letters to the White House on the issue. They are asking for an accounting of the official emails exchanged on Ivanka Trump’s personal account and to certify that the emails had been preserved according with federal law.
Gowdy is also asking the White House to disclose whether any emails contained sensitive or classified information.
The action came the same day Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the likely incoming chairman of the House Oversight panel, said he would pressure Trump’s administration to turn over records about the use of private email for public business by Ivanka Trump, Kushner and other senior officials.
“My goal is to prevent this from happening again – not to turn this into a spectacle the way Republicans went after Hillary Clinton,” Cummings said. “My main priority as Chairman will be to focus on the issues that impact Americans in their everyday lives.”
In comments to reporters, the president, who has spent years railing against Clinton’s use of private email for public business while secretary of state, sought to downplay – and differentiate – his daughter’s email use from his former opponent’s.
“They aren’t classified like Hillary Clinton. They weren’t deleted like Hillary Clinton,” Trump said, adding: “What Ivanka did, it’s all in the presidential records. Everything is there.”
The emails contained information relating mostly to logistics and personal interests, an administration official said.
The official defended Ivanka Trump from comparisons to Clinton, noting Ms. Trump did not understand email communications rules and her emails also did not contain classified information. Ms. Trump also stopped using her personal address when she was informed her private email couldn’t be used for government communication, the administration official told CBS News.
Peter Mirijanian, spokesperson for Ivanka Trump’s ethics counsel, Abbe Lowell, told CBS News in a statement she had used her email while she was “transitioning into government,” and suggested she used her private account “until the White House provided her the same guidance they had to others who started before she did.”
Mirijanian stressed no classified information was transmitted in the messages, no emails were deleted and the emails have since been “retained” in conformity with records laws.
“When concerns were raised in the press 14 months ago, Ms. Trump reviewed and verified her email use with White House Counsel and explained the issue to congressional leaders,” he said. He did not say which congressional leaders were briefed.
The Senate Homeland Security and House Oversight investigations into private email were launched in 2017. That October, the White House dispatched counsel’s office lawyers to brief the committees. But the attorneys refused to identify any officials who had used private email for official business.
At the time, the White House lawyers told the House committee they couldn’t provide additional information on specific employees while an internal review was under way, according to a letter from Cummings. The White House has since not shared the findings of that review with Congress.
The discovery of the extent of Ivanka Trump’s email use was prompted by public records requests from the liberal watchdog group American Oversight. The group’s executive director, Austin Evers, said in a statement that “The president’s family is not above the law,” and he called on Congress to investigate.
“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,” he said.
The emails the group uncovered include correspondence between Ivanka Trump and Small Business Administration chief Linda McMahon and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
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