Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, set up a private email address last December and has been using it to discuss official government business with other administration officials, Politico reported on Sunday.
Among others, Kushner communicated with prominent current and former aides including the previous chief of staff Reince Priebus, the former chief strategist Steve Bannon, the current senior economic adviser, Gary Cohn, and the spokesman Josh Raffel. Sources told Politico that topics discussed primarily had to do with "media coverage, event planning, and other business."
During last year's harsh presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly lambasted his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, for using a private email server when she was secretary of state.
A lawyer for Kushner downplayed the significance of his client's actions, telling Politico, "Mr. Kushner uses his White House email address to conduct White House business."
"Fewer than 100 emails from January through August were either sent to or returned by Mr. Kushner to colleagues in the White House from his personal email account," he added. "These usually forwarded news articles or political commentary and most often occurred when someone initiated the exchange by sending an email to his personal rather than his White House address."
According to Politico, the lawyer added that "Kushner has adhered to government record-keeping requirements by forwarding all the emails to his account."
Kushner's interactions through his private email account were not limited to other administration and government officials. Politico found that the senior adviser also communicated with "acquaintances" outside the government about White House business, citing recipients of those messages and some White House colleagues.
Though the practice of using a private email server for government matters raises ethical questions, it is not in itself illegal unless a person knowingly discloses classified information to people unauthorized to view it.
"We don't prosecute people for inadvertently exposing classified info, which is why Comey's decision not to prosecute Clinton didn't surprise me," the former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti wrote, referring to the former FBI Director James Comey.
Kushner, who spearheaded the Trump campaign's data operation, is the focus of several investigations into whether the campaign colluded with Russia to tip the 2016 election in Trump's favor. Among other things, the special counsel Robert Mueller is scrutinizing Kushner's contacts with Russia's former ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, and the Kremlin-connected head of Russia's Vnesheconombank, Sergey Gorkov.
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