WASHINGTON - Ivanka Trump, U.S. President Donald Trump's daughter and one of his key advisers, last year sent hundreds of messages to White House aides and government officials via her private email account, often in violation of federal records rules, a liberal Washington watchdog has concluded.
American Oversight said that through much of 2017 Ivanka Trump often discussed or passed on official White House business through a private email account she shared with her husband, Jared Kushner, a White House adviser to his father-in-law.
Ivanka Trump's use of private email for government business bears some similarity to one of President Trump's most prominent and enduring attacks on his 2016 opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, for her use of a private email server housed in her New York home while she was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013. Clinton was cleared of wrongdoing, but political analysts believe the FBI's lengthy investigation of classified material found on the former diplomat's email server contributed to her upset loss.
The Presidential Records Act requires that all White House communications and records be preserved for documentation. But some White House officials were apparently taken aback at the extent of Ivanka Trump's use of private email and her explanation that she was not aware of government rules.
Her emails were subsequently reviewed by her personal attorney, Washington lawyer Abbe Lowell, to determine which messages should be permanently stored as part of White House records.
A spokesman for the lawyer acknowledged she had used private email while working for her father at the White House, but drew a distinction with Clinton's use of a private email server.
"While transitioning into government, after she was given an official account but until the White House provided her the same guidance they had given others who started before she did, Ms. Trump sometimes used her personal account, almost always for logistics and scheduling concerning her family,” the spokesman said.
But he added, “Ms. Trump did not create a private server in her house or office, no classified information was ever included, the account was never transferred at Trump Organization, and no emails were ever deleted."
Austin Evers, American Oversight's executive director, said it is hard to accept Ivanka Trump's contention that she did not know the government rules about not using private email when conducting government business.
“There’s the obvious hypocrisy that her father ran on the misuse of personal email as a central tenet of his campaign,” Evers said. “There is no reasonable suggestion that she didn’t know better. Clearly everyone joining the Trump administration should have been on high alert about personal email use.”
To this day at political rallies, President Trump often ridicules Clinton as "Crooked Hillary" because of the email controversy from the campaign two years ago, a description that still generates calls from his most fervent supporters to "Lock her up!"