Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) speaks as Ivanka Trump listens during a meeting on investments at the Capitol earlier this month. (Alex Wong/Getty Images) By Colby Itkowitz Colby Itkowitz Congress, campaigns, health policy, Pennsylvania politics Email Bio Follow November 20 at 1:28 PM After The Washington Post broke the news Monday that White House senior adviser and first daughter Ivanka Trump used personal email for government business , the obvious and immediate reaction was to draw parallels with Hillary Clinton’s private server use while she was secretary of state.
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But rather than pile on the cries of hypocrisy, congressional Democrats have mostly reserved their outrage, focusing instead on how Trump’s actions are part of a larger problem within the White House.
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When asked about it during an interview on CNN Tuesday morning, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), said Trump’s email use should be investigated as part of a larger examination of her “mixing of public and private as with her clothing brand and her public position,” adding that it “raises the issue of whether there has been anything improper.”
A Democratic staffer for the House Oversight Committee, which would take the lead on any investigation into potential wrongdoing, said Tuesday the panel would investigate whether Trump violated federal law but would do so through an ongoing investigation of the White House’s compliance with the Presidential Records Act and Federal Records Act.
The law requires that federal government employees forward business-related emails sent from a private account to their official account within 20 days.
Ivanka Trump is not the only White House official to be found using private emails. Her husband, Jared Kushner, also did. And Vice President Pence, while governor of Indiana, used his private AOL account for state business.
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In September 2017, Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and ranking Democrat Elijah E. Cummings (Md.) sent a joint letter to the White House asking for more information about improper use of private email by administration staff. But when the White House said it was doing its own internal review of the matter, congressional Republicans backed off
In March 2018, Cummings sent Gowdy a letter contrasting his treatment of Trump with Clinton during the Benghazi investigation, which revealed her use of a private email server
“You demanded — and I supported — the production of all of her emails relating to Benghazi, and you did not wait for the Inspector General or the State Department to complete their own internal reviews,” Cummings wrote. He added that Gowdy should subpoena the White House for documents and information related to personal email use
Now that Cummings will assume the chairmanship in January, a committee aide said he will pick up the investigation where Gowdy dropped it last year
“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,” Cummings said Tuesday in a statement to The Fix. “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 news about Ivanka Trump may also provide Democrats a fresh reason to call the first daughter before Congress to testify. Earlier this year, incoming House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said he’d like to interview her as part of the Russia investigation
Republicans will contend that Trump officials’ use of private email is different from Clinton’s because Clinton’s was from an email account set up through a private server in the basement of her New York home. Thousands of those emails were deleted during the investigation into the deaths of four Americans in attacks on U.S. government facilities in Benghazi, Libya
Democrats are likely being careful about how they approach the Ivanka Trump issue, because many of them accused Republicans of making too big a deal of Clinton’s emails
American Oversight, the liberal watchdog group that discovered the Ivanka Trump emails through a Freedom of Information Act request, attempted to compensate for that in a letter sent to top members of the Oversight Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday
“While much of the rhetoric surrounding Secretary Clinton’s use of personal email was hyperbolic and untethered to the law or facts,” said Austin R. Evers, the group’s executive director, “the extensive use of personal email by a senior public official raises important questions that merit investigation.”
Of course, some Democrats couldn’t help themselves
Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) tweeted a story about Trump’s email and commented , “Karma has a sense of humor.”