American Oversight Expands Its Investigation of Administration’s Improper Email Use

After last week’s Washington Post report that Ivanka Trump used a personal email account for official business on hundreds of occasions, American Oversight is continuing its investigation not just into the extent to which the president’s daughter and senior adviser violated records rules, but also into whether such risky actions extended to other officials within Trump’s cabinet.

White House officials only became aware of Ivanka Trump’s personal email use after American Oversight filed a lawsuit in 2017 against four agencies for failing to turn over emails between her and senior political staff. To learn more about the White House’s damage-control effort, the watchdog group filed Freedom of Information Act requests seeking communications among more than 20 federal agencies, the White House, and Ivanka Trump’s law firms.

Today, American Oversight filed additional FOIAs to find out whether heads of executive agencies have used personal email for official business and if they have adhered to federal recordkeeping rules. The new FOIAs seek any email communications sent by various senior agency officials from personal accounts, and any such emails that were forwarded to an official governmental address,.

The Federal Records Act requires that all government business conducted using a personal email account be forwarded to an official account within 20 days, and American Oversight is also asking the National Archives and Records Administration for communications about what steps Ivanka Trump and others within the administration took to ensure compliance with the law.

American Oversight sent a letter on November 20, the day after the Post article, calling for a congressional investigation into Trump’s personal email use, including into whether she mishandled classified information. Democrats on the House Oversight Committee, which is expected to be chaired by Rep. Elijah Cummings in the next Congress, have announced their plans to investigate the issue, and even outgoing Republican Chair Trey Gowdy has asked the White House for more information.