Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to further clarify the similarities, and differences, between Hillary Clinton’s and Jared Kushner’s use of private email for governmental affairs. The article’s conclusion has been lightly edited.
Sunday afternoon, Politico reported Jared Kushner, senior adviser and son-in-law to President Donald Trump, frequently used a private email account to conduct official government business. According to the article, White House material was shared via unsecured communication about two dozen times.
The new development, confirmed by Kushner’s lawyer, stinks of hypocrisy; it was a popular refrain that Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her days as secretary of state made her ineligible to assume the presidency, after all. By the same logic, Kushner himself should step down — or, at least, have his security clearance revoked.
The similarities between the two cases are uncanny, seeming different primarily in that Clinton used a private server, which handled many more emails than Kushner’s private account. In its own report, The Washington Post noted these variances, but specifically highlighted the parallels:
“Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, set up the private account before Donald Trump moved into the White House and Kushner was named a senior adviser to the president in January. Once in the White House, Kushner used his private account for convenience from time to time — especially when he was traveling or using a personal laptop, according to two people familiar with his practice. A person who has reviewed the emails said many were quickly forwarded to his government account and none appear to contain classified information.
“Clinton offered a similar explanation in 2015 when it was revealed that she set up a private email account as her exclusive means of email communication when she was secretary of state. Clinton also said she opted for private email ‘as a matter of convenience.’ She insisted that she never shared classified information on her private account or tried to sidestep the federal law that requires that official government communications are preserved. She said nearly all of her communication was stored by the government because she was communicating with other officials on their government accounts.”
Admittedly, Clinton’s cavalier attitude toward secure communication, as well as official documentation and record-keeping, deserves rebuke. However, we should keep in mind that a punishment should always be fashioned to fit the (proverbial) crime.
We must treat like as like, regardless of our political leanings. It would be equally hypocritical for former Clinton supporters to decry Kushner’s actions while justifying those of their own candidate. Thus, your author suggests a compromise: As Clinton received her slap on the wrist from former FBI Director James Comey following an excessive investigation into her own email scandal, so too should Kushner’s actions be subject to dutiful scrutiny and, if called for, official reprimand.
It’s only right. The security of our government’s lines of communication, and our ability to document the official conduct of public officials, should be above ordinary partisan politics. ■