At first glance it doesn’t look likely to blow up into anything too big, but who knows these days? You would think that by this time we’d be done with discussions about administration officials using private email accounts, but you would sadly be incorrect. The Associated Press is reporting that White House adviser (and presidential son-in-law) Jared Kushner has fessed up to using his private email account for “government business” though it’s unclear as yet just how much it related to government communications.
President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, used his personal email account on dozens of occasions to communicate with colleagues in the White House, his lawyer said Sunday.
Between January and August, Kushner either received or responded to fewer than 100 emails from White House officials from his private account, attorney Abbe Lowell said in a statement.
“These usually forwarded news articles or political commentary and most often occurred when someone initiated the exchange by sending an email to his personal, rather than his White House, address,” Lowell said.
The attorney said Kushner, a key aide to Trump, uses his White House address to discuss White House business and that any non-personal emails have been forwarded to his official account and preserved.
So how serious is it? There’s going to be an investigation if the Democrats have anything to say about it, but if the story being presented by Kushner’s lawyer is accurate (and that’s a significant “if” in that sentence) they may not turn up much. In the early days of Kushner’s involvement as a White House adviser, people were still forwarding news articles articles to his old, personal account. Apparently he answered some of them. That’s a rookie mistake, but let’s keep in mind that Kushner absolutely was a political rookie at that point.
He’s claiming that none of it was actual discussions of policy or White House business and all such discussions were handled using his new government account. Also, we’re allegedly only talking about less than a hundred messages, so it’s not the tens of thousands we’re still battling over from the Clinton scandal. Further, he claims that all “non-personal emails” have been forwarded to the government email account so they have been captured for the public record. Again, assuming that’s all true he could be in the clear. But just as we saw with the secret bathroom server of another notable public figure, people are going to be asking who decided which ones were “personal” and which ones weren’t. And were any of the personal ones deleted? Can they be recovered?
This brings us back to the “rookie” portion of the discussion. Yes, Kushner was still fairly wet behind the years in terms of the American Game of Thrones, but we’re talking about a potential email scandal. Kushner was traveling with the President at various times throughout the campaign and keeping close tabs on everything to do with the election. It’s flatly impossible that a guy as smart as he’s widely acknowledged to be hadn’t heard all the chants of, “Lock Her Up” for months on end. It was one of the single biggest themes of the campaign and swamped the national media all last summer.
Knowing all of that, shouldn’t the very first email sent to his private account after arriving at the White House have been met with an auto-responder saying to contact him at his new government account? This is a self-inflicted wound and if Kushner wants Trump’s team to retain credibility on this subject he’s going to have to man up, stand before the wheel and let people look into his private emails. Anything less will put the President in the position of either having to go after him personally or defend him, and choosing the latter course would make Trump a massive target for charges of hypocrisy.