Kushner accused of using private messaging for official White House business

Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a senior White House aide, uses private messaging services to conduct official government business, according to new information released Thursday by congressional Democrats. As a candidate, Trump, his surrogates, and his supporters repeatedly advocated locking opponent Hillary Clinton in prison for using a private email server to conduct government business when she was secretary of state.

On Thursday afternoon, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) sent a letter to the White House detailing Kushner’s use of both private email and encrypted apps like WhatsApp to conduct official White House business. The revelations stem from conversations in December between Kushner’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, and Cummings, who is currently the chair of the House Oversight Committee.

The letter adds that White House officials, such as Kushner, who use private messaging services for official communications appear to be violating the Presidential Records Act.

“Specifically, when asked whether Mr. Kushner had ever used WhatsApp for official business, Mr. Lowell confirmed that Mr. Kushner has used — and continues to use — WhatsApp as part of his official duties in the White House,” the letter notes.

It’s unclear what specific government business Kushner was conducting through the private messaging services. Previous reports linked Kushner’s usage of WhatsApp to his communications with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Lowell did not rule out that Kushner may have used them to transmit classified information. “That’s above my pay grade,” Lowell said when asked about Kushner potentially sharing classified information, according to Cummings’ letter.

Former Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who served as the chair of the House Oversight Committee before Cummings took over this year, was also present for the December meeting between Cummings and Lowell.

Cummings’ letter also noted that Trump’s daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump, used private email for communications. It also added that former Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland used an AOL.com account to conduct official business, including instances of discussing the possibility of supplying “sensitive U.S. nuclear technology” to Saudi Arabia.

In the letter, Cummings requested pertinent documents from the White House, including information on individuals like Kushner and Ivanka Trump who have used personal email accounts. Cummings also requested information pertaining to White House policies on personal messaging services.

In a separate letter on Thursday from Lowell, obtained by POLITICO, the attorney disputed Cummings’ recollection. “I specifically said that ‘If there was a question about Jared’s use of WhatsApp, that is a question for White House counsel, not me,’” Lowell wrote. Lowell added that Ivanka Trump has forwarded all “official business” to her White House account as of at least September 2017.

Read more: thinkprogress.org