White House officials have begun examining emails associated with a third and previously unreported email account on Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s private domain, according to three people familiar with the matter.
Hundreds of emails have been sent since January from White House addresses to accounts on the Kushner family domain, these people said. Many of those emails went not to Kushner’s or Ivanka Trump’s personal addresses but to an account they both had access to and shared with their personal household staff for family scheduling.
The emails — which include nonpublic travel documents, internal schedules and some official White House materials —were in many cases sent from Ivanka Trump, her assistant Bridges Lamar and others who work with the couple in the White House. The emails to the third account were largely sent from White House accounts but occasionally came from other private accounts, one of these people said.
The existence of additional accounts on the family domain beyond the two personal accounts used by Kushner and Ivanka Trump and reported earlier raises new questions about the extent of personal email use by the couple during their time as White House aides. Their use of private email accounts for White House business also raises concerns about the security of potentially sensitive government documents, which have been forwarded to private accounts.
The family has declined to say what privacy measures have been placed on the domain, but a person familiar with the setup said some security measures were taken when it was installed.
Many of the emails came from Ivanka Trump’s assistant and included work-related “data,” according to a person familiar with the exchanges. Such messages were sent “daily,” this person added.
“They’ve pretty much been using it since they got here,” this person said.
Kushner set up the new personal domain in December, ijkfamily.com, as he was preparing to accept a senior adviser role in President Donald Trump’s administration. Ivanka Trump joined the administration in March but was corresponding with officials through a private email account before.
POLITICO reported in September that Kushner and Ivanka Trump used their personal emails to conduct some government business. Other current or former White House officials have also used personal email accounts or encrypted messaging apps that can be set to automatically delete communications for official matters. The White House is reviewing the use of personal email addresses by administration officials.
A representative for the family said Ivanka Trump has been careful about keeping her personal life separate from her work.
“Her White House assistant did not and does not work on these matters,” the representative said. “Her personal and work obligations, schedule, travel arrangements and contacts were and are coordinated in accordance with this separation, as she was advised to do.”
The representative added that Ivanka Trump’s emails have been preserved on the White House email system. “The extent of this coordination illustrates both full transparency and a desired separation between her work and personal functions,” this person said.
A White House spokesman said staff have been told to comply with the Presidential Records Act and “applicable guidelines for work-related communications.”
“In light of recent congressional inquiries, we have briefed staff on the need to preserve records and are working to ensure compliance,” the spokesman said.
Kushner’s lawyer Abbe Lowell said his client “uses his White House email address to conduct White House business” and that Kushner exchanged fewer than 100 emails with White House colleagues through the personal account. In most cases, those exchanges were initiated by the other party sending a message to Kushner’s private account, Lowell said.
Kushner forwarded such messages to his official White House email account to comply with the Presidential Records Act, which mandates that documents about White House activities be preserved, according to Lowell.
The blurring of lines between personal and professional communications isn’t unique to the Kushners, but the use of personal email accounts creates a security risk, White House officials and experts say.
“Everyone uses private email, no one thinks about security, and that’s why it keeps happening,” said James A. Lewis, senior vice president and director of the Strategic Technologies Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Even if there’s not any classified information sent, that doesn’t mean the information wasn’t sensitive.”
Kushner’s activities have been put under a microscope during the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. That probe, run by FBI special prosecutor Robert Mueller, is further reviewing possible obstruction of justice by the president and White House officials since the inauguration.
The revelations about the Kushner family email domain have drawn parallels to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server for official business during her tenure as secretary of state. Clinton’s emails were a major point of contention during the 2016 election. President Trump criticized Clinton’s email habits and frequently called for Clinton’s arrest on the campaign trail, leading crowds at rallies in chants of “lock her up,” and urged the Justice Department to reopen the investigation into her emails.
Many details about the ijkfamily.com email domain remain unclear, including what type of security protections are in place.
The accounts would have been more secure if they relied on commercial email providers. It is unclear what they did. “If you’re using a commercial email service provider, you’re really reducing the risk,” according to Lewis, because the major tech companies that run platforms like Gmail and Outlook typically have robust security teams. “If you’re doing your own email, it gets to be a lot easier [to hack],” he added.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said last week that White House staff had been told to stick to its government email accounts. “All White House personnel have been instructed to use official email to conduct all government-related work,” Sanders said. “They are further instructed that if they receive work-related communication on personal accounts, they should be forwarded to official email accounts.”
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), and ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) sent a letter to White House counsel last week requesting more information about the use of private email addresses by White House staff.
“With numerous public revelations of senior executive branch employees deliberately trying to
circumvent these laws by using personal, private, or alias email addresses to conduct official
government business, the Committee has aimed to use its oversight and investigative resources
to prevent and deter misuse of private forms of written communication,” the pair wrote.
Cummings and the previous chairman, then-Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), sent a similar letter in March after reports that White House staffers used encrypted or disappearing messaging apps.
Concerns about how the White House should preserve electronic records such as emails far pre-date the Trump administration. Some 22 million White House emails stored on private email servers hosted by the Republican National Committee during President George W. Bush’s administration were subsequently deleted, impeding a later investigation into politically motivated firings of U.S. attorneys.
JOSH DAWSEY and ANDREA PETERSON