President Donald Trump is defending his daughter’s use of a personal email account to conduct official White House business. He told reporters Tuesday that her actions were not comparable to Hillary Clinton, whose use of a private email server during her time as Secretary of State launched a years-long investigation.
The Washington Post was the first to report that the First Daughter had sent hundreds of government emails in 2017 using a private email account she shared with husband Jared Kushner. Ivanka reportedly claimed she had been unaware of some of the rules concerning email. The Washington Post cited White House aides as being “taken aback” by her response, since her father repeatedly attacked Hillary Clinton for her use of private email during the 2016 election. Donald Trump used the issue to call for Clinton to be jailed, which led to rally chants of “Lock her up.”
Before heading to Florida for the Thanksgiving holiday on Tuesday, President Trump called the allegations against his daughter “fake news.” He stressed that Ivanka’s emails did not contain classified information, that none had been deleted and that Ivanka was not trying to hide anything. “There was no server in the basement like Hillary Clinton had… what Ivanka did, it’s all in the presidential records.”
President Trump made those remarks on the same day House Democrats announced they would investigate whether Ivanka had violated federal law. Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland will head the probe, as the next chairman of the House Oversight Committee.
Rep. Cummings released a statement acknowledging that lawmakers had planned to investigate personal email use by White House staffers in 2017. But he said the executive branch did not provide the documents necessary to conduct a full investigation. His statement reads in part: “We need those documents to ensure that Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and other officials are complying with federal records laws and there is a complete record of the activities of this Administration. My goal is to prevent this from happening again — not to turn this into a spectacle the way Republicans went after Hillary Clinton. My main priority as Chairman will be to focus on the issues that impact Americans in their everyday lives.”
The director of the watchdog group American Oversight, Austin Evers, has called for a thorough look into Ivanka’s emails in a letter to Congress. He wrote that her use of a private email account potentially raises national security concerns. Evers added that “given the extent to which her father has publicly fixated upon the issue of personal email use by government officials, both during the campaign and since taking office, there can be no doubt that Ms. Trump knew her use of personal email broke the law.” You can read the full letter here.
Attorney and Harvard Law School Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz, who has frequently come to the president’s defense, told Fox News that Ivanka Trump’s use of personal email was “hypocrisy on parade.” But he argued that the practice should not be condemned, regardless of who does it. “It’s a non-issue, it’s just partisan bickering. We should not be criminalizing the use of private emails whether by Hillary Clinton or by Ivanka Trump.” Dershowitz previously said that former FBI Director James Comey had been right not to prosecute Clinton over her private email server.
The reaction has been predictably much more split on Capitol Hill, drawn down party lines. Democratic Congresswoman Joyce Beatty of Ohio referenced “Lock her up” by tweeting “Cue the chant?”
Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, said during an interview on CNN that there should be an investigation. He called it part of a larger story of the “mixing of public and private as with her clothing brand and her public position.”
Congressman Mark Meadows of North Carolina defended Ivanka Trump via Twitter, writing, “There are over 30,000 BleachBit reasons why the Hillary Clinton email scandal isn’t even close to the Ivanka email issue.”
Jason Chaffetz, a retired Republican congressman, appeared to break with the GOP on this issue. “No matter who you are, government employees cannot use private email to transact government business. All of those emails are subject to congressional oversight.”