By Renae Reints
March 21, 2019

House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings gave the White House until early April to voluntarily deliver documents in relation to presidential adviser Jared Kushner’s use of personal messaging applications like WhatsApp for official business.

In a letter to the White House, Cummings said Thursday that the Trump administration has failed to provide the documentation and briefings he requested in December, adding that his committee may have to “consider alternative means to obtain compliance” if the White House continues to withhold the requested information.

The investigation into the use of personal accounts addresses potential violations of the Presidential Records Act, which states no senior White House employees can use “non-official electronic messaging accounts” for official business unless they copy the correspondence to the official account within 20 days.

Cummings wrote that Kushner’s personal counsel, Abbe Lowell, told the Committee in December that Kushner “has used—and continues to use—WhatsApp as part of his official duties in the White House.”

According to Lowell, Kushner is in compliance with the law and records his communications via screenshots. Cummings, however, expressed concern that Kushner could be using WhatsApp to communicate “sensitive and even classified” information to foreign leaders.

Ivanka Trump, an adviser to the president, also “continues to receive emails relating to official business on her personal email account,” wrote Cummings, adding that she does not always forward the correspondence to her official account as the Presidential Records Act demands.

The Committee has also seen evidence that Former Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland and former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon both used private email accounts while conducting official business as well, wrote Cummings.

The Oversight Committee began a bipartisan investigation into the use of personal accounts by Trump administration officials in 2017. It’s also currently looking into alleged security clearance abuses, the Trump administration’s immigration policy regarding the U.S.-Mexico border, and other areas of potential misconduct.

According to Cummings, however, the White House has not complied with any of these investigations.

“The White House has no produced a single piece of paper to the Committee in the 116th Congress—in this or any other investigation,” wrote Cummings in Thursday’s letter. He asked that the White House indicate if they will comply by March 28.

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