Ivanka Trump defends use of private email

Ivanka Trump, daughter and senior adviser to the President, defended her use of a private email account in an interview with ABC News.

Posted: Nov 29, 2018 9:12 AM
Updated: Nov 29, 2018 9:22 AM

On Tuesday, Ivanka Trump sat down with ABC's Deborah Roberts and was asked about recent revelations that she used a private email to conduct government business in 2017. It didn't go well.

Here's the full back-and-forth that aired Wednesday on ABC's "Good Morning America":

ROBERTS: It has come to light that early in the administration you used your private email for White House business. Your father had taken Hillary Clinton to task for this so how did you wind up in a similar situation?

TRUMP: Well, there really is no equivalency. All of my emails that relate to any form of government work which was mainly scheduling and logistics and managing the fact that I have a home life and a work life are all part of the public record. They're all stored on the White House system so everything has been preserved. Everything has been archived. There just is no equivalency between the two.

ROBERTS: People see it as the same.

TRUMP: People who want to see it as the same see it as the same. But the fact is that we all have private emails and personal emails to coordinate with her family. We all receive content to those emails and there's no prohibition from using private email as long as it's archived and as long as there's nothing in it that's classified.

ROBERTS: But your father hammered Hillary Clinton on this, said that it was criminal, she should be locked up.

TRUMP: In my case all of my emails are on the White House server. There's no intent to circumvent and there were mass deletions after a subpoena was issued. My emails have not been deleted, nor was there anything of substance, nothing confidential that was within them. So, there's no connection between the two things.

Before we go any further, it's worth noting what, specifically, The Washington Post reported earlier this month on how -- and how much -- Ivanka used a personal email to conduct White House business. Here are the two key paragraphs from the Post's initial report:

"Ivanka Trump sent hundreds of emails last year to White House aides, Cabinet officials and her assistants using a personal account, many of them in violation of federal records rules, according to people familiar with a White House examination of her correspondence....

"...Some aides were startled by the volume of Ivanka Trump's personal emails — and taken aback by her response when questioned about the practice. She said she was not familiar with some details of the rules, according to people with knowledge of her reaction."

What Ivanka Trump is trying to do to lessen the fallout from the news of the email reveal is pretty simple: Seize on a critical difference between her email setup and that of Hillary Clinton's as secretary of state -- and use that difference to "prove" that these situations have nothing in common.

She didn't delete email -- like Hillary Clinton! -- and therefore she didn't do anything wrong!

It is true that Clinton deleted more than half of the emails she sent from her private server after they were determined -- by someone who worked for Clinton -- to be entirely personal and without any interest to FBI investigators looking into her decision to set up a private email server in the first place. (As I wrote at the time, that was a very dumb decision by Clinton.) And if Ivanka is to be taken at her word, every email she sent from her private email account has been preserved. (Caveat worth noting: Ivanka said Tuesday that "all of my emails that relate to any form of government work ... are all part of the public record." So, who decided which emails didn't relate to any form of government work? And where are the emails that were deemed as totally personal?)

Even if you buy Ivanka's story on her emails -- and how her situation is different from Clinton's -- it doesn't change this basic fact: This all happened after a campaign in which her father -- now the President of the United States -- relentlessly bashed Clinton for her decision to rely on a private email server while serving as the country's top diplomat. Donald Trump suggested Clinton was hiding something nefarious, that she had jeopardized national security by conducting business on a non-governmental email address and that she, broadly, didn't think the rules applied to her.

How, after that campaign, can Ivanka Trump make a straight-faced argument that she didn't know what the rules were governing the use of a personal email account when conducting government business? The answer, of course, is that she can't. It is simply impossible to believe someone as involved in her father's presidential campaign would be totally ignorant of the fact that it might be problematic to use a private email to conduct business when she was in the White House.

The truth here is that Ivanka Trump is guilty of the same entitlement mentality that her father and his surrogates accused Clinton of: Seeing the rules of the road as something for other people to follow. Sure, that whole email thing was a problem for Hillary Clinton, but I'm Ivanka Trump! I'm different.

That Ivanka still doesn't get the real issue for her in her decision to use a private email address speaks to the bubble in which she lives. And that's a problem.

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