A White House “examination” of Donald Trump’s daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump’s online habits has concluded she used a personal email address for official correspondence hundreds of times, in many cases in “violation of federal records rules,” the Washington Post reported on Monday.
According to the Post, White House officials discovered that the younger Trump had been using her personal email for government purposes via a domain shared with her husband, fellow administration flunky Jared Kushner, and that she pledged ignorance of the issue when asked about it:
White House ethics officials learned of Trump’s repeated use of personal email when reviewing emails gathered last fall by five Cabinet agencies to respond to a public records lawsuit. That review revealed that throughout much of 2017, she often discussed or relayed official White House business using a private email account with a domain that she shares with her husband, Jared Kushner.
... Some aides were startled by the volume of Ivanka Trump’s personal emails—and taken aback by her response when questioned about the practice. Trump said she was not familiar with some details of the rules, according to people with knowledge of her reaction.
Notably, prior reporting has suggested that the National Security Agency—the primary federal agency in charge of signals intelligence—explicitly warned administration officials including Kushner that using personal emails for government purposes was unsafe, and could possibly cross-contaminate official channels of communication. Specifically, a Politico report noted that the NSA told White House staff to assume that their personal emails were already compromised:
The officials said White House aides also were told they should assume that foreign cyberspies had already penetrated their personal email systems to some degree and used that access to vacuum up everything not just on their own computers and phones but those of their contacts.
Politico had also noted that a number of White House staff including Kushner, ex-chief strategist Steve Bannon, ex-chief of staff Reince Priebus, ex-economic adviser Gary Cohn, and Ivanka Trump were using personal devices or email addresses for official business despite clear policies asking them not to. They all reportedly did it anyways. However, the Post report says that Trump’s use of personal email was much more widespread than previously acknowledged.
A spokesman for Ivanka Trump’s attorney and general ethics counsel Abbe Lowell, Peter Mirijanian, told the Post that she had only used her personal account until she was given “the same guidance” provided to other officials. He added that she had used the personal account “almost always for logistics and scheduling concerning her family,” as well as that the emails had been turned over for records-keeping purposes and contained no classified information. Other sources told the paper that Trump discovered she had somehow been excluded from regular reminders about the prohibition on use of personal email, though it stretches the boundaries of credibility to believe she was never told, ever, not to do this.
Mirijanian also insisted to the Post that this was definitely, totally, not at all like that Hillary Clinton email thing that the elder Trump hammered on ad nauseam during the 2016 campaign season:
And he stressed that her email use was different than that of Clinton, who had a private email server in the basement of her Chappaqua, N.Y., home. At one point, an archive of thousands of Clinton’s emails was deleted by a computer specialist amid a congressional investigation.
“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,” Mirijanian said.
One senior federal official aware of the situation described Trump as the “worst offender in the White House.” Others told the Post that Lowell had found “fewer than 1,000 personal emails in which Trump shared her official schedule and travel plans with herself and her personal assistants,” which seems like a rather low bar, as well as “fewer than 100 emails in which Trump used her personal account to discuss official business with other administration officials.”
As is beyond obvious at this point, a reckless disregard for information security runs in the family. Ivanka Trump’s dad, the president, is reportedly still using both his Secret Service-provided phones as well as a personal one despite repeated attempts by federal counterintelligence personnel to make it clear to him that they are not secure and likely compromised by foreign intelligence agencies.