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, as regular readers know, one of the reasons Trump’s political operation is in power is that it spent two years telling the public that Hillary Clinton should be incarcerated for having used a private email account.
And yet, here we are.
White House advisor and first daughter Ivanka Trump used a personal email account to send hundreds of messages to government officials last year, according to a report published Monday in the Washington Post.
Many of the messages were allegedly sent in violation of federal records rules, the Post reported, and were uncovered by White House officials reviewing Ivanka Trump’s emails in response to a public records lawsuit.
The Washington Post’s article added, “Some aides were startled by the volume of Ivanka Trump’s personal emails – and taken aback by her response when questioned about the practice. She said she was not familiar with some details of the rules, according to people with knowledge of her reaction.”
Perhaps this is one of those rare instances in which a White House official experiences selective amnesia, causing her to forget a period of time known as “all of 2015 and 2016.”
Complicating matters, Ivanka Trump is hardly alone.
Her husband, Jared Kushner, also used a private email account to conduct official business. In fact, the New York Times reported last year that “at least six” of the president’s top advisers have relied on private email accounts to send and receive messages as part of their official White House duties.
At a certain level, stories like these are inherently tricky. On the one hand, controversies about executive-branch I.T. protocols are inherently boring. But on the other hand, brazen political hypocrisy matters – and in this case, the people who claimed they were disgusted by an official using a private email account are the same people who used private email accounts.
The question about judgment isn’t limited to the West Wing, either. The Washington Post’s Paul Waldman had a good piece along these lines awhile back, noting that this can also serve as a gut-check moment for media professionals who spent two years telling American voters that Hillary Clinton’s email practices were the single most important issue facing the nation.
As we discussed at the time, the political world is going to have to collectively make up its mind: either government-mandated email protocols are an issue of immense significance or they’re not. If the conclusion is, it only matters when applied to a Democratic cabinet member, but not a Republican White House, then it’s time we all acknowledge how painfully misguided much of the 2016 coverage was.