Cummings gives White House a last chance to comply with request for emails

Image: Former Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen Testifies Before House Oversight C
Committee chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-MD, speaks to members of the media after Michael Cohen testified before the House Oversight Committee on Capitol Hill on Feb. 27, 2019. Copyright Alex Wong Getty Images file
By Heidi Przybyla with NBC News Politics
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The House Oversight Chair is warning the White House that he may pursue "alternate means" to obtain information.


WASHINGTON — House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings is giving the White House a final chance to "voluntarily" comply with his investigation into the use of private email accounts by Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and other White House officials before resorting to "alternative means" to obtain the information.

In a Thursday letter to White House counsel Pat Cipollone, Cummings accused the White House of "obstructing" his committee's work and called the officials' practices a potential violation of federal records laws.

The letter is part of an initial strategy by the Maryland Democrat to use his powers as the new chairman to pursue lines of inquiry that have had past bipartisan support, according to committee aides. In March of 2017, then-Republican Oversight Chair Jason Chaffetz joined Cummings on a letter to the White House requesting information on any use of non-official email accounts being used by White House officials.

Among the committee's concerns, according to Cummings' letter, is an admission by Kushner's attorney, Abbe Lowell, that Kushner had been using the messaging application WhatsApp as part of his official communications with foreign leaders. It's unclear whether the communications may have contained classified information. In the letter, Cummings asks that Cipollone indicate by March 28 whether the White House will comply voluntarily.

The Presidential Records Act prohibits senior White House officials from creating or sending a record "using a non-official electronic message account." The Washington Post has also reported that Ivanka Trump communicated with administration officials using her personal email account and occasionally did so even after joining the administration, sending "hundreds" of emails from her personal account.

The request for information is part a broad swath of demands Cummings has made of the White House. In his letter, Cummings noted that the White House has not "produced a single piece of paper" on this or any other investigation. The broad range of inquiries include questions about the administration's immigration policy at the Mexico border as well as hush money payments Trump made to a porn star during the 2016 election.

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