New Information about White House Officials Using Private Email and Messaging Apps Raises Security and Federal Records Concerns

Mar 21, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (Mar. 21, 2019)— Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, sent a letter to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone requesting documents regarding new information the Committee has obtained in its investigation into the use of personal email and messaging accounts by non-career officials at the White House in violation of the Presidential Records Act and White House policy.

“On December 19, 2018, after I was selected Chairman of the Committee, I sent a letter requesting that the White House produce, by January 11, 2019, all remaining documents sought by the Committee as well as a briefing that was promised by the White House over a year ago,” Cummings wrote.  “The White House failed to produce any additional documents by this date—or over the past two months—and failed to provide the promised briefing during this timeframe.  In fact, as you know, the White House has not produced a single piece of paper to the Committee in the 116th Congress—in this or any other investigation.”

Cummings explained in today’s letter that the Committee launched a bipartisan investigation in 2017, but throughout 2017 and 2018, the White House failed to produce most of the requested documents.

During that period, the Committee obtained additional information raising even more concerns about the use of private email and messaging applications by Jared Kushner and other White House officials.

For example:

  • Abbe Lowell, personal counsel for Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, confirmed that Mr. Kushner has been using WhatsApp as a part of his official duties in the White House. 
  • Mr. Lowell also confirmed that Ms. Trump continues to receive official emails on her personal email account and she does not forward the emails to her official account.  Forwarding all official emails to an employee’s official account is required by law.
  • The Committee has also obtained documents showing that K.T. McFarland, former Deputy National Security Advisor, and Steve Bannon, former White House Chief Strategist, conducted official business on their personal email accounts relating to transfer of sensitive U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.

“The White House’s failure to provide documents and information is obstructing the Committee’s investigation into allegations of violations of federal records laws by White House officials,” Cummings wrote.  “The Committee requests that you confirm by March 28, 2019, whether you intend to comply voluntarily with its requests or whether the Committee should consider alternative means to obtain the information it needs to conduct its investigation. … The Committee has jurisdiction over the Presidential Records Act and our oversight over compliance with the law will inform whether additional changes to strengthen the law are necessary.”

Click here to read today’s letter.

116th Congress