Saturday 21 September 2019

Democrats pledge to probe 'Ivanka Trump's use of personal emails'

'Obvious hypocrisy' claims as revelations echo Clinton election saga

Email trail: Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner arrive for the annual turkey pardoning ceremony at the White House yesterday. Photo: Getty Images
Email trail: Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner arrive for the annual turkey pardoning ceremony at the White House yesterday. Photo: Getty Images

Ben Riley-Smith

Democrats have vowed to launch a congressional investigation into how Ivanka Trump, the US president's daughter, used a personal email account for government business.

The 'Washington Post' reported that Ms Trump used her personal account up to 100 times to contact other Trump administration officials last year.

Critics jumped on the similarities with Hillary Clinton's use of a personal email server while she was secretary of state, which Donald Trump repeatedly attacked during his 2016 presidential campaign.

Mr Trump once dubbed the scandal over Ms Clinton's personal emails "bigger than Watergate" and his supporters still chant "lock her up" in rallies today, referencing the row.

Two prominent former White House figures who served under this president criticised Ms Trump yesterday, suggesting the behaviour appeared hypocritical after her father's vocal attacks on Ms Clinton.

The use of the personal email account reportedly occurred in early 2017 as Ms Trump transitioned from an informal adviser to her father to a White House employee.

As well as up to 100 emails referencing government business, there were reportedly hundreds more which talked about scheduling clashes.

The emails could break the Presidential Records Act, which demands all official White House communications and records are kept as a permanent archive of each administration.

Elijah Cummings, a Democrat congressman who will become chairman of the House Oversight Committee in January, yesterday vowed to investigate the matter.

He called for relevant government documents to be handed over to determine if Ms Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, who is also a White House adviser, broke government records laws.

Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for Ms Trump's attorney and ethics counsel Abbe Lowell, attempted to play down the similarities between Ms Trump's situation and that of Ms Clinton, who lost the 2016 presidential election to Mr Trump. Mr Mirijanian admitted in a statement to the 'Washington Post' that "while transitioning into government" Ms Trump "sometimes used her personal account" but insisted she had not been briefed on the rules.

He added: "Ms Trump did not create a private server in her house or office, no classified information was ever included, the account was never transferred at Trump Organisation, and no emails were ever deleted."

However two former White House officials who worked under Mr Trump - Marc Short, who was legislative affairs director, and Anthony Scaramucci, the former communications director - were critical.

Mr Short said on CNN: "It's hypocritical, and, certainly, it looks bad. And I'm sure the media will have a field day with it."

Mr Scaramucci said: "Certainly, I think it's hypocritical. I think even Ivanka, if she was interviewed about it, she'd have to say that it was a mistake. You can't do that in that position."

There are clear differences between the cases of Ms Trump and Ms Clinton, based on the limited information that has emerged about Ms Trump's's use of personal emails.

There is no suggestion Ms Trump created a personal server at home to house the emails, as Ms Clinton did, or that she has deleted any emails. Ms Clinton's email server was investigated by the FBI, who eventually chose not to bring charges.

However Democrats were quick to jump on the revelations, given the indignation Mr Trump voiced over Ms Clinton's email scandal during his successful bid for the White House and the tweets that he continues to send in office about the row.

The party's indication that it will investigate the matter come January shows the significance of the Democrats winning back the majority in the House of Representatives at the mid-term elections earlier this month.

Now the Democrats have control of the chamber - half of the US Congress - they can use its committees to launch investigations into the Trump administration.

© Daily Telegraph, London

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