A nonprofit watchdog organization is suing the Trump administration, including Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, alleging that records of their communications with foreign leaders haven’t been kept in an adequate manner, violating federal law in the process.
According to the complaint from the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), President Donald Trump and his adviser/son-in-law, Jared Kushner has failed to document or keep notes on discussions that were held between them and the leaders of several foreign nations, per reporting from Courthouse News.
The complaint alleges that Trump had at least five meetings, for example, with Russian President Vladimir Putin in which translators were present but where no one kept records or took notes of what had transpired or was spoken between the two. The most recent meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un also included just two interpreters between Trump and Kim, but no note-takers.
The omissions aren’t just annoying — they violate federal law, specifically the Presidential Records Act as well as the Federal Records Act. CREW alleges in its suit that the failure to produce or take notes at these meetings cause “real incalculable harm” to national security and foreign policy matters.
President Trump and Jared Kushner allegedly broke the law by intentionally failing to keep records of meetings with Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un and other foreign government officials, according to a new lawsuit filed by CREW. https://t.co/JGF0hGW8B0
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) May 9, 2019
Beyond not taking notes of their meetings, the suit also showcases that Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump have made it difficult to keep public records of their electronic communications.
CREW pointed out that Kushner has utilized encrypted programs like WhatsApp to keep in touch with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Both Kushner and Ivanka Trump also used private email accounts to conduct official White House business.
Such communications were deleted, it appears, which have had real consequences already, including possibly interfering with the Trump-Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller. MPR News cited the investigation’s findings, which stated:
[T]he Office learned that some of the individuals we interviewed or whose conduct we investigated — including some associated with the Trump Campaign — deleted relevant communications or communicated during the relevant period using applications that feature encryption or that do not provide for long-term retention of data or communications records.
We also learned from the redacted version of the Mueller report that Trump has been a vocal opponent of taking notes while serving in the White House. Speaking to counsel Don McGahn, Trump asked him, “Why do you take notes?”
Trump alleged that “lawyers don’t take notes,” and that he “never had a lawyer who took notes,” per reporting from New York Magazine.
McGahn assured him that a “real lawyer” takes notes to keep a trustworthy record of what happened.