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Ivanka Trump used personal account for emails about government business

Ivanka Trump last year used a personal email account to discuss or relay official White House business, acco...

Posted: Nov 20, 2018 4:49 PM
Updated: Nov 20, 2018 4:49 PM

Ivanka Trump last year used a personal email account to discuss or relay official White House business, according to emails released by a nonpartisan watchdog group.

The Washington Post reported Monday the White House conducted an investigation into Trump's email usage and that she used her personal email address for much of 2017.

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According to emails released by the watchdog group, American Oversight, Trump used her personal account to email Cabinet officials, White House aides and assistants. The Presidential Records Act requires all official White House communications and records be preserved.

Austin Evers, the executive director of American Oversight, said in a statement, "The president's family is not above the law, and there are serious questions that Congress should immediately investigate. Did Ivanka Trump turn over all of her emails for preservation as required by law? Was she sending classified information over a private system?"

The White House had no comment on Ivanka Trump's email practices.

A person close to Ivanka Trump told CNN's Poppy Harlow that "Ivanka's mindset is there is no malintent, and she is comfortable because there was no intent to avoid."

"There was no intent to avoid government servers. All of it has been preserved," the person continued explaining that if Ivanka Trump sent an email from her personal email to a government employee, then it hits the government server.

That response mirrored the argument Clinton made when defending her use of a private email server when it was an issue during the 2016 presidential campaign.

"The vast majority of my work emails went to government employees at their government addresses, which meant they were captured and preserved immediately on the system at the State Department," Clinton said in a speech in March 2015.

Trump's usage of a private email account will bring comparisons to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose usage of a private email server instead of a government email account during her time in office was a central part of President Donald Trump's campaign against her in 2016. Trump's supporters often chanted -- and still do, on occasion -- "Lock her up!" at the mention of Clinton, and President Donald Trump has frequently accused Clinton of receiving special treatment because she was not charged for skirting the Presidential Records Act with her email practices.

A source close to Ivanka Trump told CNN's Poppy Harlow that "Ivanka's mindset is there is no malintent, and she is comfortable because there was no intent to avoid.".

"There was no intent to avoid government servers. All of it has been preserved," the source continued explaining that if Ivanka Trump sent an email from her personal email to a government employee, then it hits the government server.

This is similar to the argument Clinton made when defending her use of a private email server when it was an issue during the 2016 presidential campaign.

"The vast majority of my work emails went to government employees at their government addresses, which meant they were captured and preserved immediately on the system at the State Department," Clinton said in a speech in March 2015.

The Post reported Ivanka Trump's attorney, Abbe Lowell, forwarded all the emails he believed were related to official government business to her government email account. Lowell believed that would rectify any violations of records law.

Peter Mirijanian, the spokesperson for Lowell and ethics counsel for Ivanka Trump, said in a statement, "Like most people, before entering into government service, Ms. Trump used a private email. When she entered the government, she was given a government email account for official use. While transitioning into government, until the White House  provided her the same guidance they had to others who started before she did, Ms. Trump sometimes used her private account, almost always for logistics and scheduling concerning her family."

Some advisers to President Trump were alarmed when they heard this news, the Post reports, because of the similarities to Clinton's email use. Trump has called Clinton "Crooked Hillary" for using a personal email account when she was secretary of state.

Mirijanian sought to draw a specific contrast between Ivanka Trump's personal email usage and Clinton's, by noting that she did not have the server set up in her home or office.

"To address misinformation being peddled about Ms. Trump's personal email, she did not create a private server in her house or office, there was never classified information transmitted,  the account was never transferred or housed at Trump Organization, no emails were ever deleted, and the emails have been retained in the official account in conformity with records preservation laws and rules," Mirijanian's statement continues.

White House officials were first made aware of Ivanka Trump's email usage through American Oversight's lawsuit, according to the Post.

Evers added, "For more than two years, President Trump and senior leaders in Congress have made it very clear that they view the use of personal email servers for government business to be a serious offense that demands investigation and even prosecution, and we expect the same standard will be applied in this case."

This is story has been updated.

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