US House panel to probe private mail use by White House aides

26 September 2017

A US House of Representatives committee asked the White House yesterday for information about a media report that senior officials used private email accounts for government business.

The request by the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House Oversight Committee comes after a Politico report on Sunday that President Donald Trump's son-in-law and close adviser, Jared Kushner, as also other current and former White House officials used private emails for their government duties.

In a letter to the White House counsel, the committee's chairman, Republican Trey Gowdy, and top Democrat Elijah Cummings said they would study whether senior Trump administration officials were "deliberately trying to circumvent (federal) laws by using personal, private, or alias email addresses to conduct official government business."

According to Politico, the Kushner emails included correspondence about media coverage, event planning and other subjects, but Kushner's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, claimed his client had forwarded all the emails to his official account to comply with government record-keeping rules.

During his election campaign, in 2016, Trump had attacked Democratic rival Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server for official correspondence when she was secretary of state under president Barack Obama.

A number of Clinton emails were later found to contain classified information.

Meanwhile, according to current and former officials, yesterday, at least six of president Trump's closest advisers occasionally used private email addresses to discuss White House matters, The New York Times reported.

The disclosures come a day following news that Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and adviser, used a private email account to send or receive about 100 work-related emails during the first seven months of the administration. Kushner was not alone though and Stephen K Bannon, the former chief White House strategist, and Reince Priebus, the former chief of staff, also occasionally used private email addresses. Other advisers who had sent or received at least a few emails on personal accounts included Gary D Cohn and Stephen Miller.

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