Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and adviser, did not preserve all of her official emails as required by federal law, and her husband, Jared Kushner, used a messaging application to conduct U.S. business outside government channels, the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee said on Thursday.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said in a letter to the White House that the use of private email accounts and the messaging application WhatsApp by senior administration officials raised “security and federal records concerns.”
Cummings said Abbe Lowell, an attorney for Kushner and Trump, told the committee that the first daughter doesn’t preserve official emails she receives in her personal account if she doesn’t respond to them. Cummings said that appears to violate the Presidential Records Act.
However, just hours later, Lowell issued a letter of his own disputing Cummings’ characterization. Lowell said he was referring to Trump’s email use before September 2017 and that he told committee staff that now “she always forwards official business to her White House account.”
The dispute arose as Cummings also released information about Kushner’s use of WhatsApp and raised questions about personal email accounts used by other former senior White House aides to discuss a proposal to transfer U.S. nuclear power technology to Saudi Arabia.
Cummings’ letter said Lowell told his staff that Kushner, a senior adviser to the president, used WhatsApp to conduct official U.S. government business including by communicating with “people outside the United States.”
When asked whether Kushner had ever used WhatsApp to discuss classified information, Cummings said Lowell responded, “That’s above my pay grade,” and referred questions to the White House and the National Security Council, according to Cummings’ letter.
Lowell said Kushner archives the messages he sends by taking screenshots of them and forwarding the records to his official White House email account or to the National Security Council.
In his response letter Thursday, Lowell stressed that he didn’t say whether Kushner used WhatsApp to communicate with foreign leaders or officials. He said he also informed the committee that Kushner complies with all protocols involving classified information.
In a statement Thursday, White House deputy press secretary Steven Groves said the White House will review Cummings’ letter and “provide a reasonable response in due course.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.