Congress Takes On Personal Email Use Early In The Trump Presidency

Congress Takes on Private Email Accounts Early in the Trump Presidency

What’s the problem? After all, it’s common knowledge that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner have both been using their private email accounts (owned by their family business) while operating as advisors in the White House.

Though personal server email use was highly criticized during the 2016 presidential campaign (as being a crime for which Hillary Clinton should be locked up), similar actions by the Trump White House have been essentially ignored. Until now.

Within 48 hours of having received a directive from a Congressional Oversight Committee to preserve (do not destroy or relocate) email records of government business conducted in this manner – Ivanka and Jared rerouted those emails to Trump Organization computers.

Subsequently, on October 5, 2017, the Committee rerouted their evidentiary request to Go Daddy (the host server), the Trump Organization, and Ivanka and Jared individually. It was additionally requested that the FBI open a review of the facts in the investigation.

Whether these subject emails are compromising is not the issue (though if they were, that certainly opens another door). In fact, no law currently exists specifically barring the use of private email accounts in the White House.

However, there is one (referred to in these comments by Committee member, Congressman Elijah Cummings) which dictates users must transfer any personal emails containing government business to government servers within 20 days. It’s called the Disclosure Requirements for Official Business Conducted Using Electronic Messaging Accounts, 44 U. S. Code 2209; a 2014 amendment to the President Records Act of 1978.

Most of the original length and breadth of 3,684-word Chapter 22 defines the ownership, custody, management and restriction of access to records created or received by the President, Vice-President or a ‘covered employee’ (their immediate staff, an individual or unit of the Executive Office whose function is to advise or assist in the course of the leader’s duties). The final 8% (§ 2209) was adopted the year after Hillary Clinton’s term as Secretary of State was over.

Summary of 44 U.S.C. 2209

In general, no records are to be composed or sent by the President, Vice President or ‘covered employee’ via a non-official electronic message account (email or other systems used for interpersonal communications) unless:

  1. the ‘official’ electronic message account is copied on the original creation or transmission; or
  2. a complete copy of the record is forwarded to the ‘official’ electronic message account not later than 20 days after the original creation or transmission.

The intentional violation by a ‘covered employee’ (breaking of rules, regulations or implementation guidelines) – as determined by the appropriate supervisor – shall be a basis for disciplinary action as defined in one of the following subchapters in chapter 75 (Adverse Actions) of title 5:

  1. Subchapter I – suspension for 14 days or less;
  2. Subchapter II – removal; suspension for more than 14 days; reduction in grade or pay; or furlough for 30 days or less;
  3. Subchapter V – removal; suspension for more than 14 days; regulations are specific to career appointees in the Senior Executive Service.

These subchapters each contain a set of employee rights for cause and procedure; such as advance written notice of action; a reasonable time to furnish statements and evidence for their answer; legal representation; and the receipt of a written decision.

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