Jared Kushner Used Encrypted App to Communicate With Foreign Leaders, Democrats Claim

Clay Curtis
March 22, 2019

Elijah Cummings said in a letter to White House counsel Pat Cipollone that the panel confirmed late a year ago with Abbe Lowell, personal counsel for Kushner and Trump, that the couple used their personal email and WhatsApp for official business.

"Our Committees are in receipt of the White House Counsel's letter, which continues a troubling pattern by the Trump Administration of rejecting legitimate and necessary congressional oversight with no regard for precedent or the constitution", the chairmen said. When asked if Kushner discussed classified information in his communications on WhatsApp, Lowell replied, "That's above my pay grade", according to Cummings.

Cummings added that Lowell also said his other client, Ivanka, sends personals email messages relating to her duties to her official White House email account only when she responds to them.

Aside from the Kushners, the House committee said other officials such as the former deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon used their personal email accounts to talk about the "transfer of sensitive US nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia".

House Oversight and Reform Committee chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) is demanding an investigation into Jared Kushner's use of a personal messaging account to conduct government business.

The request for information about communications with Putin followed the powerful House Judiciary Committee's demand for documents from a who's who of Trump's turbulent world, targeting 81 people, government agencies and other groups in an investigation of possible obstruction of justice or abuse of power.

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The committee also said it obtained documents showing former top White House strategist Steve Bannon and former Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland had used their personal email accounts for White House business regarding the transfer of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia. He also contended that Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump, also a senior adviser, may be in violation of the Presidential Records Act by her use of private emails. "The White House has not turned over a single piece of paper to our committee or made a single official available for testimony during the 116th Congress", he wrote.

Lowell said he never told the committee Kushner's communications through WhatsApp were with foreign "leaders" or "officials". "If they don't include or screenshot or have this information forwarded from their personal accounts to their official government accounts, guess what, it goes into essentially the ether and no one can see it again", she explained. He said his comments to the committee involved Ivanka's email use before September 2017.

Other government officials, including Vice President Mike Pence (when he was governor of Indiana) have been found to have used private emails for government work.

The chairman said another document appeared to show that Bannon received documents "pitching the plan from Mr. Barrack through his personal email account", at a time Bannon was at the White House and working on broader Middle East policy. An attorney for McFarland declined to comment.

Hillary Clinton was criticized by Republicans throughout the 2016 presidential campaign for using a private email to conduct official business during part of her tenure as secretary of state in the Obama administration. "The Committee requests that you confirm by March 28, 2019, whether you intend to comply voluntarily with its request or whether the committee should consider alternative means to obtain the information it needs to conduct its investigation", Cummings wrote.

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