President Donald Trump repeatedly attacked his political rival, Hillary Clinton, for her use of a private email server while she served as Secretary of State during the 2016 campaign. But since taking the oath of office in January, at least six members of Trump’s administration are reported to have used private email accounts for official White House business.
Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior advisor, disclosed through his lawyer on Sunday that he used private emails in the earliest days of the administration. And according to a New York Times report published Monday, Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, aides Gary Cohn and Stephen Miller, and former staff members Steven Bannon and Reince Priebus also used private email accounts.
Clinton has since weighed in on the reports. “We’re finding with the latest revelations – they didn’t mean any of it. It’s just the height of hypocrisy,” she said on Sirius XM radio on Monday. Clinton was of course referring to the outrage over her use of a private email server and the regular “lock her up” chants at Trump rallies during the campaign. She added: “It is something that if they were sincere about, I think you’d have Republican members of Congress calling for an investigation. I haven’t heard that yet.”
In What Happened, the former Democratic nominee’s recently published book, she cited former FBI director James Comey’s investigation into her email scandal as one of the major reasons for her defeat. Last month, the former First Lady and New York senator told NBC that she “would’ve won” the election, had it not been for Comey’s handling of the matter. “It stopped my momentum” she said. “It drove voters from me. And so that, in terms of my personal defeat, was the most important factor.”
Although he harshly criticized her conduct, Comey originally cleared Clinton of any wrong doing during a press conference in July 2016. But, 11 days before the election, Comey announced that new emails were discovered on former congressman Anthony Weiner’s laptop. Weiner is of course the estranged husband of Huma Abedin, a political staffer who was vice chair of Clinton’s 2016 campaign. Comey later cleared the Democratic nominee again, two days before Election Day. Weiner has since been sentenced to 21 months in prison for sexting with a 15-year-old girl.
Now, while these revelations are embarrassing for Trump’s team, the cases aren’t exactly the same. Clinton was serving as Secretary of State at time, handling tens of thousands of emails, many of which contained classified information. She also insisted that she never received classified email on her private server before clarifying that she never “knowingly” did.
The content of the Trump team’s emails is reported to be less significant, according to officials. It also isn’t illegal for White House officials to use personal email accounts for government business. They are, however, under the Presidential Records Act and Federal Records Act, legally obligated to forward any official correspondence to a work account within 20 days for preservation.
“Fewer than 100 emails from January through August were either sent to or returned by Mr. Kushner to colleagues in the White House from his personal email account,” Kushner’s lawyer said in a statement. He added that most of the emails were news articles or political commentary, and “all have been preserved in any event,” which would comply with both the Presidential Records Act and the Federal Records Act.
On Monday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to questions about the emails. “All White House personnel have been instructed to use official email to conduct all government related work,” she said. “They are further instructed that if they receive work-related communication on personal accounts, they should be forwarded to official email accounts.”
Nevertheless, the Trump administration’s use of private emails still comes off as more than a tad hypocritical. It seems their conduct is at odds with the inefficiency and the mediocrity that the “drain the swamp” slogan insists our government—and society—needs to cleanse itself of.