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Watchdog lawsuit shines light on Ivanka Trump email use

By
Clyde Hughes
White House adviser Ivanka Trump attends a White House event to highlight the economy and job opportunities on October 31. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
White House adviser Ivanka Trump attends a White House event to highlight the economy and job opportunities on October 31. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 20 (UPI) -- White House adviser Ivanka Trump is under scrutiny for supposedly using a private email account for official government business, a watchdog says.

The group, American Oversight, sued five government agencies last year after they failed to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests for emails between Ivanka Trump and members of the Trump administration.

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Using a private server for official business would violate federal records rules.

The group said Trump used her private account to correspond with senior political staff and other cabinet officials including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Small Business Administration head Linda McMahon and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

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"The president's family is not above the law, and there are serious questions that Congress should immediately investigate," Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight, said in a statement.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the focus of an in-depth Justice Department investigation for emails she sent while head of the State Department under former President Barack Obama -- an inquiry that ultimately did not charge Clinton and led to repeated attacks and criticism from President Donald Trump.

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"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," Evers said. "We expect the same standard will be applied in this case."

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The Washington Post reported that White House ethics officials found out about Ivanka Trump's private email use while preparing for the American Oversight lawsuit and ordered an investigation that found she used a personal email account for much of 2017.

The use alarmed White House ethics officials, fearing comparisons with Clinton's case, the Post report said.

"While transitioning into government, after she was given an official account but until the White House provided her the same guidance they had given others who started before she did, Ms. Trump sometimes used her personal account, almost always for logistics and scheduling concerning her family," Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for Trump attorney and ethics counsel Abbe Lowell, told the newspaper.

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He added that Ivanka Trump has given up all her government-related emails to be permanently archived with other White House records.

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