As regular readers know, officials in Donald Trump’s White House cannot credibly claim ignorance when it comes to proper email protocols. Trump World was told not to use private email accounts to conduct official business. The National Security Agency also warned White House officials that use of private email accounts created a security threat.
What’s more, Trump’s entire political operation had just spent two years telling the public that Hillary Clinton should be incarcerated for having used a private email account.
And yet, several top members of the president's team ignored the rules and the warnings, and used private email accounts anyway. This has generated some interest on Capitol Hill, but as Politico reported, the White House has decided not to care.
The White House brushed off a bipartisan request from House investigators for details of senior administration officials' use of private email and encrypted messaging apps for government work, including possible violations of federal record-keeping laws, a letter obtained by POLITICO shows.
In a terse letter to Reps. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) -- leaders of the House oversight committee -- President Donald Trump's congressional liaison Marc Short declined to indicate whether any administration officials had used personal email accounts or messaging services, despite reports suggesting such communications were common in the West Wing.
Gowdy and Cummings requested the "the individual, cellular number and account used" by any White House officials who communicated using "text-messages, phone-based message applications, or encryption software to conduct official business."
Short responded that White House officials "endeavor to comply" with the relevant laws -- which isn't the same thing as actually following the law -- before declining to provide lawmakers with any additional details.
Traditionally, when lawmakers engaged in administrative oversight request information, and the White House blows them off, Congress takes the slights quite seriously. That said, it's a Republican-led Congress and a Republican White House, so it's possible GOP members will simply shrug their shoulders. The decision is largely in the hands of Trey Gowdy, who's generally been an ally of this White House.
While we wait for this to play out, however, let's not miss the forest for the trees.