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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.

 

Republicans in Congress were alerted to Ivanka Trump’s improper use of private email for government business over a year ago — but they failed to conduct a proper investigation or subpoena the White House over it.

A bombshell Washington Post report revealed Monday that Ivanka Trump has used a private email account to send hundreds of messages to government officials since December of 2016. The practice may be in violation of the Presidential Records Act, which requires government business to be conducted over official accounts so the information can be preserved.

What’s more, the Post reported, the Trump White House knew about this behavior — and tried to shield Ivanka Trump from scrutiny by attributing the account to her husband, Jared Kushner, to avoid the scandal of Trump’s daughter doing the same thing that Trump spent his entire campaign demonizing Hillary Clinton for.

But White House officials weren’t the only ones covering for Ivanka Trump.

Over a year ago, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, pushed for the couple to come clean about their email misuse.

Yet Republicans, who led the committee, refused to do their constitutionally mandated duty of providing oversight of the executive branch.

“This actually started as a bipartisan investigation last year that the Republicans subsequently dropped,” a senior Democratic staff member on the Oversight Committee told Shareblue Media. “We plan to continue our investigation of the Presidential Records Act and Federal Records Act, and we want to know if Ivanka complied with the law.”

While the extent of Ivanka Trump’s use of the account was unknown at the time, it was known that both she and Kushner were using a private domain belonging to the Kushner family.

In a September 2017 letter, Cummings directed Kushner to preserve the communications he and his wife had sent using the private server.

Yet after the letter was sent, the couple reportedly tried to throw critics off their trail by rerouting their personal email accounts through a server operated by the Trump Organization.

Cummings once again publicly called them out for this. He told the couple, along with the Trump Organization, to preserve their emails and contacts, and asked the FBI to conduct a security review of their private email use.

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) was the chairman of the House Oversight Committee during this back and forth, and he was intimately aware of what Cummings was asking for.

In fact, Gowdy and Cummings sent a joint letter to the White House asking for documents on Ivanka and Jared’s use of private email accounts.

But Republicans completely failed to follow up on the investigation.

The White House orchestrated a briefing for the committee on the emails, but did not disclose the extent of Jared and Ivanka’s email usage.

Instead of using his power to seek the truth, however, Gowdy accepted the White House’s whitewash and claimed the administration was in “full compliance” with the joint records request.

Cummings blasted the committee’s Republicans for their inaction in a letter to Gowdy.

“If you decide to follow-through on your proposed course of action, the committee essentially will be abdicating its oversight responsibilities under the Constitution by walling off the White House from serious congressional scrutiny,” Cummings wrote.

He added that the GOP’s actions were part of a “troubling pattern of the Oversight Committee capitulating to the Trump White House rather than exercising its independent authority to conduct oversight of the executive branch.”

Cummings once again called out Republicans for their inaction in March of this year. He pushed Gowdy to subpoena the White House and force it to produce documents it had been withholding.

The new report from the Post reveals that Cummings was right to be concerned about a cover-up, and confirms that Republican leaders in Congress failed to do their jobs.

Gowdy also led the House GOP’s “investigation” into the Benghazi attack, which wasted two and a half years and nearly $8 million trying and failing to pin blame for the attack on Hillary Clinton.

Yet when it came to investigating the Trump administration, Gowdy simply stood down.

With Benghazi, Republicans believed they had a potent line of attack against Clinton and used the investigation to that end, even though they had no good evidence to back up their attacks.

But since they apparently see no political upside to holding Trump accountable, Republicans have been willing to avoid evidence implicating Trump’s daughter in a potential scandal.

Voters got fed up with Republicans’ refusal to do even rudimentary oversight of Trump, and that frustration helped fuel the blue wave that gave Democrats control of the House’s investigative powers.

Now Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, along with the rest of the Trump administration, will have to deal with congressional leaders who aren’t likely to give them a free pass on corruption like Republicans did.

Published with permission of The American Independent. 

 

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