House Oversight Committee Investigating Jared Kushner’s Use of WhatsApp for Foreign Communications

Democrats accuse Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner of violating law with private emails

Reps. Elijah Cummings, chairman of the Oversight Committee, Eliot Engel, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and Adam Schiff, chairman of the intelligence committee, said the rejection was "troubling", and suggested they were preparing for a major constitutional showdown.

After the White House failed to respond to Cummings' document and briefing requests in December, Cummings added in his letter, the committee gathered information that raised "more concerns" about the personal email use of Kushner and other White House officials.

Cummings, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, said in the letter that Kushner's attorney, Abbe Lowell, confirmed that Kushner was using WhatsApp to communicate with foreign officials.

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.

Cummings argues in his letter it could be a violation of the Presidential Records Act, which prohibits White House staff from using private email to conduct government business unless the individual forwards the message to the official account within 20 days.

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White House spokesman Steven Groves said: "As with all properly authorised oversight requests, the White House will review the letter and will provide a reasonable response in due course". "This is very concerning-not only is it potentially a violation of the Records Act but also raises questions: What is he communicating about, and why does it need to be kept a secret?"

Previous attempts by the committee to obtain information on the use of private email have been rebuffed by the White House, setting up the latest battle between the Democratic-controlled body and the president.

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

"I did not specify who they were", Lowell said.

Lowell didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Last year, Ivanka Trump alleged "there's no connection between" her email use and Clinton's.

The dispute arose as Cummings also released information about Kushner's use of WhatsApp and raised questions about personal email accounts used by other former senior White House aides to discuss a proposal to transfer USA nuclear power technology to Saudi Arabia.

"If you continue to withhold these documents from the committee, we will be forced to consider alternative means to obtain compliance", Cummings said.

His letter said others may have been involved in the practice while they worked at the White House, including former deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland and former chief strategist Steve Bannon. "While we respectfully seek to accommodate appropriate oversight requests, we are unaware of any precedent supporting such sweeping requests".

He stated that there was no legal authority requiring the president to turn over "diplomatic communications with foreign leaders" or "confidential internal deliberations of the president's national security advisors".

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