About a week ago, ProPublica reported that members of Donald Trump’s voting commission have been using private email accounts to conduct official business. The same piece quoted legal experts who agreed that the practice falls short of compliance with the law.
The reporting came just a month after state officials in Indiana turned over private emails Vice President Mike Pence sent during his gubernatorial tenure. It turns out that Pence conducted quite a bit of official business through his private AOL account.
And late yesterday, Politico reported that Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s right-hand man on practically every issue, also used a private email account in the White House – a practice his lawyer confirmed soon after.
President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser, Jared Kushner, used his personal email account while communicating with White House colleagues, Kushner’s lawyer said Sunday.
In a statement, the lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said Kushner used the account in fewer than 100 emails during Trump’s first eight months in office.
Kushner’s attorney said there were “fewer than a hundred” emails in total, and though we don’t yet have any way of knowing whether this is true, he added, “All non-personal emails were forwarded to his official address and all have been preserved in any event.”
This also follows reporting from February which found White House officials using private chat programs to circumvent record-preservation laws.
I will gladly concede that when it comes to the Trump administration, and the staggering volume of scandals that have unfolded throughout the year, officials using private emails probably seems like weak tea – because it is. Under normal circumstances, missteps like these would barely raise an eyebrow.
But recent circumstances are anything but normal. Much of the political world, including Republican officials and every major news organization I can think of, recently spent two years telling the American electorate that compliance with government-mandated email protocols was possibly the single most important issue facing the nation.
In her new book, Hillary Clinton noted, “[I]f you had turned on a network newscast in 2016, you were three times more likely to hear about those emails than about all the real issues combined.” A Harvard study published last month bolstered the claim.
And with this in mind, there’s value in the political world taking stock. If Clinton’s emails deserved to be the single most dominant issue in the 2016 race, what kind of attention should be paid to similar email practices on Team Trump? Will the hysteria be comparable?
Postscript: The New York Times’ article on Kushner’s private email account was published today on page A18. The front page of the paper, where Clinton-related email stories were published, is known as A1.