Congress is investigating the Trump administration's reckless use of private email accounts to handle government business — including discussions about sharing sensitive nuclear technology with Saudi Arabia.
Trump's deputy national security adviser apparently used a personal AOL email account to discuss the transfer of sensitive nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.
This could be a violation of federal law and a national security risk — and what's more, it was done in coordination with a major donor to Trump's inaugural committee.
Elijah Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, sent a letter on Thursday to White House counsel Pat Cipollone demanding information on the ongoing use of private email accounts by top aides to conduct official White House business.
The letter reveals that documents indicate then-deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland "conducted official business on her personal AOL.com account," and that McFarland used her account as part of efforts to "transfer sensitive U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia."
The Saudi Arabian information transfer was done, Cummings notes, "in coordination with Tom Barrack, a personal friend of President Trump" and the chairman of his inaugural committee.
The Trump inaugural committee is currently under criminal investigation.
McFarland was deputy to Michael Flynn, Trump's disgraced former national security adviser. She was also a frequent Fox News talking head for years, who was hired as part of Trump's obsession with surrounding himself with people who he has seen on television. McFarland frequently expressed an affinity for Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin during her Fox appearances.
Cummings notes that the Oversight Committee found a document indicating that Steve Bannon, who was Trump's chief White House Strategist, received documents "pitching the plan" about the technology transfers from Barrack "through his personal email account."
"These communications appear to be sent while Mr. Bannon worked at the White House in order to inform Mr. Bannon's official work relating to developing 'broader middle east policy'," Cummings wrote.
McFarland and Bannon's communications "raise questions" about whether they complied with the Presidential Records Act, which requires official business to be conducted on official government accounts so information can be stored and preserved. To do otherwise would violate federal law.
Those weren't the only explosive revelations in Cummings' letter.
Cummings also revealed that Trump's son-in-law and aide Jared Kushner used a private email account and the encrypted messaging program WhatsApp to conduct official business. Cummings noted that a "major security breach" could have possibly occurred if Kushner used his accounts to transfer classified information.
Trump cleared Kushner to receive classified data despite concerns that were raised by the CIA. Kushner's lawyer told Cummings that he sends "screenshots" of his conversations to his official account.
Along with Kushner, Cummings also noted in his letter that Ivanka Trump has continued to receive official government communications at her personal email account. Both Kushner and Ivanka Trump may also be in violation of the Records Act, which would mean they broke federal law.
The Chairman slammed the White House for failing to comply with records requests for over two years, and gave the administration until April 4 to comply with several lines of inquiry.
If the stonewalling continues, Cummings notes he "will be forced to consider alternative means to obtain compliance." That could include an official subpoena, which Democrats have authorized already in other probes.
Many of these potential security violations, and the subsequent stonewalling of congressional requests, happened when Republicans were in charge of the House and barely bothering to conduct oversight of the Trump administration.
Things have changed with Democrats in the majority — and they're revealing just how reckless the Trump administration has been in handling America's most sensitive secrets.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.