A week ago, ProPublica reported that members of Donald Trump’s voting commission have been utilizing private email accounts to conduct official business. The piece quoted legal experts who agreed that the practice is not compliant with the law.
The reporting came a month after state officials in Indiana turned over private emails that Vice President Mike Pence sent during his gubernatorial tenure. It turns out that Pence did quite a bit of official business through his private AOL account.
And late yesterday, Politico reported that Jared Kushner, who is Donald Trump’s right-hand man on practically every issue, also utilized a private email account in the White House, something his lawyer confirmed soon after.
“President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser, Jared Kushner, used his personal email account while communicating with White House colleagues, Kushner’s lawyer said Sunday.
In a statement, the lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said Kushner used the account in fewer than 100 emails during Trump’s first eight months in office.”
Kushner’s attorney claimed there were “fewer than a hundred” emails in total, and despite the fact that we don’t yet have any way of knowing whether this is true, he added, “All non-personal emails were forwarded to his official address and all have been preserved in any event.”
This also comes after reporting from February which found White House officials using private chat programs to get around record-preservation laws.
I will gladly admit that when it comes to the Trump administration, and the mind-blowing volume of scandals that have unfolded throughout the year, officials using private emails indeed seems like weak tea, because it is. Under normal circumstances, mistakes like these would hardly raise an eyebrow.
But recent circumstances are not normal. Much of the political world, including Republican officials and nearly every major news organization I can think of, spent the last two years telling the American electorate that obeying government-mandated email protocols was the single most important issue facing the nation.
In her new book, What Happened, Hillary Clinton noted, “[I]f you had turned on a network newscast in 2016, you were three times more likely to hear about those emails than about all the real issues combined.” A Harvard study published last month supported the claim.
And keeping this in mind, there’s value in the political world taking stock. If Clinton’s emails should have been the single most dominant issue in the 2016 race, what kind of attention should be given to similar email practices on Team Trump? Will the hysteria be the same, or even close?
Postscript: The New York Times’ article about Kushner’s private email account was published today on page A18. The front page of the newspaper, where Clinton-related email stories were published, is called A1.