The saga of the Trump team’s hypocrisy continues this week. In a new letter to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) alleges that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump have used WhatsApp and personal email accounts to conduct official business as part of their roles as presidential advisers at greater extents than previously known.
Cummings claims that he learned of the behavior from Kushner’s lawyer Abbe Lowell during a meeting in December of last year, at which time he was still the ranking member on the committee and then-Republican South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy was the chair. The issue first emerged all the way back in 2017, and did push Gowdy to request information — but the White House was not forthcoming, and Democrats slammed the then-majority’s decision to not issue subpoenas for the information. In his newest letter — which is one of what’s now more than a dozen requests for information from the White House — Cummings indicates that if they do not abide by the April 4 deadline he’s set, he is ready to issue subpoenas.
The issue demands the urgency — the Maryland lawmaker says Lowell told the Oversight Committee’s leadership in December that Kushner “continues to use” WhatsApp and could not guarantee he had never used the app to transmit classified information. Lowell allegedly added that Kushner takes screenshots of his messages — which have included conversations with individuals as high-ranking as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, forwarding them to his government email account in order to comply with record keeping law.
Unsurprisingly, Lowell denies this, saying he was more vague than that when it came to questions about Kushner’s communications practices, but that vagueness might only exist in his dreams.
Besides information on Kushner’s practices, Cummings is also seeking documentation covering Ivanka Trump, former deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland, and former top Trump adviser Steve Bannon. The Congressman claims that Lowell indicated Ivanka was still using her personal email account for government business, and he says he’s learned that McFarland and Bannon participated in a plan to transmit “sensitive U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia” via none other than their personal email accounts.
Besides his request for documents covering each of these issues, Cummings also wants a briefing from the administration on its “protocols for preserving records in accordance with the law.”
Although the White House said this week they would provide a “reasonable” response to Cummings’ latest request, the high-profile Congressman revealed in a recent piece for The Washington Post that they had not produced a single document or witness that the committee had requested under his leadership. During a recent public hearing featuring former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) complained that having the supposedly untrustworthy Cohen as his first witness would forever be a stain on Cummings’ legacy as chairman — but it wouldn’t be Cummings’ fault! Besides, they had other witnesses for other matters before the former lawyer.
President Donald Trump has decried supposed “presidential harassment” from Congressional Democrats, but Cummings asserted in that piece for The Post that the real villain of this story is “unprecedented obstruction” from the White House.
Cummings’ committee is investigating issues ranging from the White House security clearance process to the illegal hush money scheme targeting women with whom Trump had affairs. The president’s team is also facing investigations ranging from the House Intelligence Committee’s look at their foreign ties to multiple probes into the Trump inaugural committee and beyond.
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