On Monday, the Washington Post reported that Ivanka Trump, first daughter and senior White House adviser, had sent hundreds of emails about government business from a private email account, “many of them in violation of federal records rules.”
In 2016, President Trump premised his presidential campaign on Hillary Clinton‘s use of a private email server while secretary of state, repeatedly claiming that Clinton couldn’t be trusted because she had compromised national security. (No evidence of hacking or a security breach was ever found, and Clinton was not charged with wrongdoing.) Trump’s rally crowds often chanted “Lock her up” — at one point led by Michael Flynn, who became Trump’s national security adviser and is now awaiting sentencing on multiple felonies — which continue to this day.
On the campaign trail, Donald Trump said Hillary Clinton’s personal email use was “corruption is on a scale we have never seen before” and “bigger than Watergate.”
On Tuesday, Ivanka Trump’s office explained why she had used the private email domain, which she shared with her husband, Jared Kushner, who is also a White House adviser. A spokesperson said she occasionally used private email before she was informed of the rules and had turned over government-related emails months ago so they could be archived in accordance with those rules.
So did Ivanka Trump break the law?
Ivanka Trump may have violated the Presidential Records Act of 1978, which was passed in response to Watergate and requires that all official White House communications and records be preserved.
Ivanka and Jared Trump sent up the Microsoft-hosted domain “ijkfamily.com” in December 2016, as they were preparing to move to the White House. Their emails were prescreened by the Trump Organization for viruses, the Post reported.
“Trump used her personal account to discuss government policies and official business fewer than 100 times — often replying to other administration officials who contacted her through her private email,” the Post reported. “Another category of less-substantive emails may have also violated the records law: hundreds of messages related to her official work schedule and travel details that she sent herself and personal assistants who cared for her children and house, they said.”
Trump used her private email to conduct official business after she joined the Trump White House in March 2017 as a senior adviser. “She was the worst offender in the White House,” a former senior U.S. government official told the Post.
No one has yet been charged with a crime in violation of the Presidential Records Act. The full extent of Ivanka Trump’s private email use is not yet known. That may lead to a Congressional investigation.
At least six members of the Trump administration have used personal email to conduct government business, the New York Times reported in September 2017. They include Jared Kushner, former strategist Steve Bannon, former chief of staff Reince Priebus, former economic adviser Gary D. Cohn and adviser Stephen Miller. Ivanka Trump was mentioned in the Times story, but this week’s Post story indicates that her personal email use was much more extensive than what was known at the time.
In June 2018, Politico reported that President Trump often tore up papers he received, so government staffers began taping them together for archiving to comply with the Presidential Records Act.