House Panel Approves Subpoena for White House Emails From Private Accounts

WASHINGTON — The House Oversight Committee voted Thursday to authorize a subpoena for all work-related texts and emails sent or received by White House officials on personal accounts, part of a long-running probe into whether senior administration aides have violated federal records laws by using private messaging services for official business.

The 23-to16 vote, divided along party lines, puts into the cross hairs President Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, both of whom have admitted through an attorney to using personal accounts in the course of their work. The effort is also a turnabout of sorts for House Republican efforts in 2016 to highlight Hillary Clinton’s use of personal emails for her official work as secretary of state.

“The committee has obtained direct evidence that multiple high-level White House officials have been violating the Presidential Records Act by using personal email accounts, text messaging services, and even encrypted applications for official business — and not preserving those records in compliance with federal law,” said Representative Elijah E. Cummings, Democrat of Maryland and the chairman of the committee. “What we do not yet know is why these White House officials were attempting to conceal these communications.”

The broad subpoena includes all communications — even messages that contained classified material — sent or received by White House employees, including employees in the National Security Council. It specifically names Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff.

The committee first requested those messages in March 2017 under the Republican leadership of Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah, after reports that multiple White House officials, including Ms. Trump, were using encrypted apps to conduct administration business. CNN reported last October that Mr. Kushner had communicated with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia using WhatsApp, and a lawyer for Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump confirmed to the committee in March that they both used private email accounts for White House business.

The White House has not produced a single document in response, Mr. Cummings said. The Presidential Records Act requires that nearly all communications with White House staff on official matters be preserved and that officials who use personal accounts either copy or forward an official account on all such messages.

Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the panel, painted the efforts as a partisan attack on Mr. Trump.

“They are so desperate to get the President. They just can’t help themselves,” Mr. Jordan wrote Wednesday on Twitter.

Just last month, Mr. Jordan and two other Republicans called on the committee to renew its examination of Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email server.

Democrats on the committee slammed Republicans’ opposition to the authorization and charged them with hypocrisy after Republicans demanded thousands of Mrs. Clinton’s private emails as part of the Benghazi investigation. Mr. Trump made Mrs. Clinton’s private email server a central line of attack in his 2016 campaign for president.

“We received those documents, and I called for them to be made public,” Mr. Cummings said. “Our approach today should not be different merely because Donald Trump is president.”

Source link