Officials in Donald Trump’s White House were told they couldn’t 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, there’s now ample evidence that top members of the president’s West Wing team conducted official business through private emails, and as Politico reported last night, the problem continues to grow, particularly as it relates to Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.
Hundreds of emails have been sent since January from White House addresses to accounts on the Kushner family domain, these people said. Many of those emails went not to Kushner’s or Ivanka Trump’s personal addresses but to an account they both had access to and shared with their personal household staff for family scheduling.
The emails – which include nonpublic travel documents, internal schedules and some official White House materials – were in many cases sent from Ivanka Trump, her assistant Bridges Lamar and others who work with the couple in the White House. The emails to the third account were largely sent from White House accounts but occasionally came from other private accounts, one of these people said.
Politico’s report added that messages, which included work-related “data,” were sent on a daily basis, which points not only to a potentially widespread problem in the White House, but also “concerns about the security of potentially sensitive government documents, which have been forwarded to private accounts.”
Assorted Trump allies in conservative media have, at least for now, been willing to defend the problem as a “rookie mistake.” And it may be tempting to agree under the circumstances: people with no experience in government or public service were suddenly running the executive branch of a global superpower. Perhaps, the argument goes, they didn’t fully appreciate the rules.
The trouble with the defense is that it’s absurd. If Kushner and other top officials in Trump’s orbit were told not to use private email, were reminded by the NSA not to use private email, and had just wrapped up a campaign based largely on a government official’s use of private email, it’s hard to take seriously the idea that these folks were innocent rookies who had no idea what they were supposed to do.
All of which raises the related question of why, exactly, so many members of Team Trump ignored the instructions and pretended the rules didn’t apply to them.