Are Trump's Staffers Really Using Private Email Accounts?

Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Images.
If you paid any attention during the presidential campaign, you know that Donald Trump (and other republican politicians) repeatedly harped on Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was Secretary of State — and you also know about the FBI's investigation into her deleted emails. The controversy also fueled the common "lock her up" chant at Trump's rallies.
Now, in an ironic twist, there are reports claiming that some Trump staffers are also using private email accounts. According to Newsweek, Kellyanne Conway, Steve Bannon, Sean Spicer, and Jared Kushner all had private Republican National Committee email accounts, which were separate from their White House accounts. (Newsweek reports that some of those accounts have apparently been deleted.)

During the George W. Bush administration, the Republican National Committee server, rnchq.org, was called into question for reportedly misplacing millions of emails. That server was among those reportedly hacked by Russia during the 2016 election season.

While the use of a private server isn't illegal, there are specific rules that must be complied with. According to the 2014 law 44 U.S.C. 2209, executive agency employees can't use one to send records unless a copy is forwarded to an official account within 20 days of being sent, or the official account is copied on the original message.

We don't know anything about the content or number of emails sent from Trump's staffer's accounts, but their existence isn't consistent with transparency concerns raised throughout Trump's campaign. The New York Times also reports that Trump has continued to use an unsecured Android phone to post on Twitter, which raises additional worries about hacking.

We'll continue to update this piece with more information about the private accounts.

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