Democrats say Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner used WhatsApp to contact foreign leaders

Jared Kushner faces scrutiny over alleged use of WhatsApp

In a letter to Mr Cummings on Thursday, Mr Lowell said he told the leaders he did not know any details about Mr Kushner's use of a private communications application, and that he told them to ask the White House counsel about it.

Trump son-in-law and top White House adviser Jared Kushner uses WhatsApp to conduct official government business, and his wife Ivanka Trump still does official work on her personal email account, running afoul of the law, House Democrats said Thursday. "The White House has not turned over a single piece of paper to our committee or made a single official available for testimony during the 116th Congress", he wrote.

'These communications raise questions about whether these officials complied with the Presidential Records Act and whether the White House identified this personal email use during its internal review and took steps to address it, ' Cummings wrote.

Lowell said Kushner archives the messages he sends by taking screenshots of them and forwarding that record to his official White House email account or the National Security Council.

In the letter, Cummings noted that Kushner's lawyer had told Congress in December that Kushner used WhatsApp as part of his official duties but did not say whether such messages included classified information.

Lowell didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

"If you continue to withhold these documents from the committee, we will be forced to consider alternative means to obtain compliance", Cummings said.

The White House refusal marks the latest move in the ongoing fight between the Trump administration and House Democrats looking to flex their oversight muscles since retaking control of the lower chamber of Congress in January.

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Elijah Cummings: White House officials using personal accounts to do official work

The committee said that it learned about the use of private email and WhatsApp from a December 2018 conversation from Kushner's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, who also represents the president's daughter, Ivanka Trump.

His letter said others may have been involved in the practice while they worked at the White House, including former deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland and former chief strategist Steve Bannon.

The House committee's investigation comes after Ivanka Trump past year dismissed any comparison to the use of private email by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which prompted an FBI investigation and inspired the "Lock Her Up" chant at then-presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign rallies.

The White House rejected a request by congressional Democrats that it provide information about President Donald Trump's communications with Russian President Vladimir Putin, House Democratic leaders said Thursday, suggesting they would take further action.

"Yes!" said Ward. "And [former White House Counsel] Don McGahn, by the way, was just exasperated by it".

In a letter earlier this month, the House intelligence, foreign affairs and oversight committees asked for the substance of Trump and Putin's conversations in person and by phone.

"Even if the exclusive constitutional assignment of foreign relations authority to the Executive did not in itself limit congressional oversight power in this arena, it is equally well-established that privilege principles categorically protect the President's diplomatic communications", Cipollone argued in the letter.

"The president must be free to engage in discussions with foreign leaders without fear that those communications will be disclosed and used as fodder for partisan political objective", Cipollone wrote.

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