Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, uses the online messaging service WhatsApp for official business – including communication with foreign contacts, according to a new letter from congressional investigators.
The letter, sent to the White House by the House oversight committee chairman, Elijah Cummings, on Thursday, also says Ivanka Trump, Kushner’s wife and the president’s daughter, is not preserving all of her official emails, as required by federal law.
The new disclosures came in the letter to the White House counsel Pat Cipollone, and demands documents related to the use of personal email and messaging accounts by White House aides.
“The White House’s failure to provide documents and information is obstructing the committee’s investigation into allegations of violations of federal records laws by White House officials,” Cummings, the Maryland Democrat, wrote.
The Presidential Records Act prohibits senior White House officials from using non-official email or messaging accounts for government business, unless they send copies of the messages to their official accounts.
Abbe Lowell, a lawyer for Kushner and Ivanka Trump, told the committee in December that Kushner was still using WhatsApp as part of his official duties at the White House, including for communications with people outside the United States.
Kushner is the Trump administration’s point man on Middle East policy. CNN reported last year he was communicating on WhatsApp with the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.
Lowell said that Kushner complied with the records law by taking screenshots of his messages in the app and sending them to his White House email, according to the letter. But he could not tell investigators whether Kushner had sent classified information through WhatsApp, saying: “That’s above my pay grade.”
Ivanka Trump has continued to receive email related to official business on her personal email account, and does not forward a message to her official account unless she replies to it, Lowell told the committee.
“This would appear to violate the Presidential Records Act,” Cummings wrote.
Other White House officials have also used personal email for official business, the letter says.
KT McFarland, when she was deputy national security adviser, used her personal AOL account, according to a document cited by the committee.
Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon also received documents related to an effort to transfer nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia at a personal email address, the letter says.
Cummings said that when it was under Republican control in March 2017, his committee started investigating whether White House officials were using personal email and messaging accounts to conduct official business.
He said that Trump’s White House had so far failed to provide documents and information, and demanded that they turn over the information by 4 April. He asked for a list of all White House officials who have used personal email for official business.