Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s golden boy son-in-law and nepotism hire as a senior White House adviser, is not the only administration official using private email accounts to conduct official government business.
Just one day after Kushner was reported to have been using a personal email associated with a family domain, the New York Times reports at least five other senior administration officials used private accounts, including former chief of staff Reince Priebus, National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, Stephen Bannon, Stephen Miller, and even the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump.
As the Times noted, it isn’t illegal for White House staff to use personal email accounts as long as they forward all private communications to their official emails to be archived — but the practice is generally discouraged, as it gives the impression said officials are trying to avoid public scrutiny in the course of their duties.
In fact, attentive people may remember that all of these individuals except for Cohn were key players in running a US presidential campaign that relentlessly focused on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s similar use of private email during her tenure as secretary of state. To this day, Trump has continued to suggest he may have Attorney General Jeff Sessions prosecute Clinton over the matter.
While Clinton stored classified data on her server, which she used to transmit tens of thousands of emails, it’s unclear where on the scale the Trump officials’ use of private email fell. Per the Times, sources say Ivanka Trump used a private email account both before and after becoming an official administration adviser. Politico reported her husband, Kushner, set up a private family domain “late last year before moving to Washington from New York”.
Kushner’s lawyers issued Politico a very specifically worded statement saying “Fewer than 100 emails from January through August were either sent to or returned by Mr Kushner to colleagues in the White House from his personal email account” — though that did not foreclose the possibility Kushner used his private email to contact people outside the administration.
Given how much team Trump whooped up the Clinton email controversy, all of officials involved should have been at least aware of the fact that using their private emails for official job functions would open them up to embarrassing accusations of rank hypocrisy and incompetence. If they used the private accounts to send messages they wanted to keep on the down low, the outcome could be much worse.
That leaves two options, really. Either they really are that stupid — or they just don’t care, because they think they’re above the consequences.