Democrats open investigation into Kushner's private email use

By Ed Adamczyk and Danielle Haynes   |   Sept. 25, 2017 at 6:29 PM
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Sept. 25 (UPI) -- The lead Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Monday launched an investigation into White House adviser Jared Kushner's use of a private email account for government business.

Ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., sent a letter to President Donald Trump's son-in-law asking him to preserve all emails and other electronic data associated with the account that he sent and received to conduct business.

In a statement Sunday, Kushner's attorney, Abbe Lowell, said the adviser sent fewer than 100 emails were sent from his personal account instead of from his White House account.

Most of the messages, Lowell said, included "forwarded news articles or political commentary." She added that the emails were eventually forwarded, and preserved, in Kushner's White House official account.

Kushner established the personal account -- using a private family domain also used by Ivanka Trump -- during the transition period between Trump's election victory in November and his inauguration in January, Politico reported Monday. There was no indication Kushner shared sensitive or classified information in his private emails.

Use of private email accounts may contravene the Presidential Records Act, which demands that all federal employees who create documents using non-governmental email accounts forward them to their governmental accounts within 20 days.

"It is unclear from recent press reports whether you have complied with this law," Cummings said in his letter to Kushner.

Cummings said that he and former committee chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, sent a letter to the White House counsel asking whether any officials there had used unofficial email accounts to conduct business. White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short responded that "there are no senior officials covered by the PRA with multiple accounts."

"This statement appears to be inaccurate," Cummings said.

The issue of government employees using an unofficial email accounts became problematic for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign. Investigators found she used a private email server while she was President Barack Obama's secretary of state, and State Department and intelligence officials asked federal authorities to determine whether her use of private email exposed any classified material.

Former FBI Director James Comey called her actions "extremely careless," but ultimately cleared Clinton of wrongdoing.

Former chief of staff Reince Priebus, former chief strategist Steve Bannon, National Economic Council director Gary Cohn and Kushner spokesman Josh Raffel are among White House officials who sent and received emails through Kushner's personal account, Politico's report said.

Kushner is a focus of the government's ongoing investigation into potential Russian interference in the 2016 election. The Justice Department's probe has expanded to include possible obstruction of justice by Trump and aides since the start of the administration.

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