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House Democrats pressure White House on Jared Kushner’s use of WhatsApp

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The Democratic head of a U.S. congressional investigative panel on Thursday pressed the White House for information on whether President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, used the unofficial WhatsApp messaging tool to communicate sensitive or classified information with foreign leaders.

U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings made the request in a letter seen by Reuters to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.

In the letter, Cummings noted that Kushner’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, 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.

The congressman also said Lowell told his committee that Ivanka Trump – the president’s daughter, Kushner’s wife and a White House adviser – continued to receive emails related to official business on a personal email account.

Cummings said in his letter that the Presidential Records Act prohibits top White House officials, including the president and vice president, from using non-official electronic messaging accounts.

In a letter to Cummings on Thursday, also seen by Reuters, Lowell said the congressman was “not completely accurate” in characterizing what Lowell earlier had told congressional investigators about Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s handling of electronic communications.

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Lowell denied he told members of Congress Kushner had communicated through any app with foreign “leaders” or “officials” but said that instead, Kushner had used such apps for communicating with “some people,” whom he did not specify.

Lowell also denied saying that Ivanka Trump continued to receive emails related to official business on a personal account. He said Ivanka Trump “always forwards official business to her White House account.”

Steven Groves, a White House spokesman, said: “The White House has received Chairman Cummings’ letter of March 21st. As with all properly authorized oversight requests, the White House will review the letter and will provide a reasonable response in due course.”

When they controlled House committees during the administration of President Barack Obama, Republicans aggressively investigated how Hillary Clinton used a private email server while secretary of state, and complained when then- FBI Director James Comey announced no criminal charges were warranted.

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Cummings said that when the House was under Republican control in March 2017, his committee had started investigating whether White House officials were using personal email and messaging accounts to conduct official business.

He said that Trump’s White House had so far failed to provide documents and information and was “obstructing” his committee’s efforts to investigate possible violations of White House policy and the presidential records law.

(Reporting by Mark Hosenball; editing by Mary Milliken, Jonathan Oatis and Dan Grebler)

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
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Shep Smith stunned that America will continue to be left without an official defense secretary after Patrick Shanahan resigns

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Fox News host Shepard Smith noted on Tuesday that the United States gone without a confirmed secretary of defense since the resignation of James Mattis in December last year.

"This one came out of nowhere. But really didn't catch a lot of people by surprise. We begin with breaking news and the bombshell report that has blown up the top spot at the Pentagon, ensuring that the United States goes longer without a full-time confirmed secretary of defense," Smith said.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan abruptly resigned on Tuesday after facing an FBI investigation over domestic violence allegations.

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Mitch McConnell says he won’t support reparations because ‘we elected an African-American president’

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on Tuesday that the United States does not need to pay reparations for slavery in part because "we elected an African-American president."

McConnell was confronted with a question about reparations during a press gaggle at the Capitol.

"I don't think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago for whom none of us currently living are responsible is a good idea," the Kentucky Republican opined. "We tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation. We've elected an African-American president."

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Trump campaigner changes the subject when asked what ‘promises’ Trump has kept

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Marc Lotter, the strategic communications chief for Donald Trump's re-election campaign, had a bit of a communication problem when questioned about the president's slogan "promises made, promises kept."

MSNBC's Kasie Hunt asked Lotter in an interview about the president's launch rally, which kicks off in Orlando Tuesday evening. She noticed there were signs saying "promises made, promises kept," but wasn't sure exactly what it was referencing.

"I think the president’s message is going to be based on promises made, promises kept," he confessed. "He’s going to highlight the economy. He’s going to highlight that for the first time in ten years that paychecks are growing. We have more jobs than we do job seekers. These are all very positive benefits to the president’s leadership. And it’s going to be a choice."

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