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At least six White House advisers used private email accounts for government business, according to a New York Times report on Monday.
The Times, citing current and former White House officials, said the former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, former chief strategist Steve Bannon, and current advisers Gary Cohn and Stephen Miller all sent or received at least some work-related emails from personal accounts.
Politico had reported on Sunday that the adviser Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, sent or received about 100 emails from a private account from January through August. And a report from Newsweek on Monday said Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, a White House adviser since March, also used a private email address.
Using a personal email account for government business is not illegal for advisers, but they are supposed to forward all such emails to their government accounts so they can be made available to the public.
The report of Kushner’s use of the private server prompted Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, to launch an investigation into the matter. Cummings was joined by the committee’s Republican chairman, Trey Gowdy, who wrote to the Trump administration asking for more information on senior officials using private accounts.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, members of Trump’s team repeatedly criticized Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state. At his rallies, Trump described Clinton’s actions as criminal, prompting raucous chants of “Lock her up!” from his crowds.
An FBI investigation into Clinton’s email use ended with then-FBI Director James Comey declining to recommend criminal charges against Clinton.
But as The Times noted, there are some differences between Clinton’s private email use and that of the Trump advisers. For one, Clinton’s emails numbered in the tens of thousands, about 100 of which contained classified information. In the Trump advisers’ case, the content and frequency of the emails are unknown, but the officials cited by The Times described them as sporadic.
The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, acknowledged the private email use in a statement on Monday:
“All White House personnel have been instructed to use official email to conduct all government-related work,” she said. “They are further instructed that if they receive work-related communication on personal accounts, they should be forwarded to official email accounts.”