President Trump downplayed his daughter Ivanka’s use of a private email account to conduct government business early in his administration, saying there was no comparison between her practices and those of Hillary Clinton, his 2016 Democratic rival.
Mr. Trump, who as a candidate dubbed the former first lady “Crooked Hillary” over her email practices and other actions, made numerous distinctions between what his daughter did and what Mrs. Clinton had done, including that Ms. Trump wasn’t handling classified information and did not delete thousands of them while federal officials were investigating her.
“They weren’t classified like Hillary Clinton,” Mr. Trump said, adding that Ms. Trump “wasn’t doing anything to hide her e-mails.” More than 100 of Mrs. Clinton’s emails did contain classified information.
He essentially confirmed a report Monday night in the Washington Post that Ms. Trump sent hundreds of emails about official government business in the first part of 2017, using a domain she shares with husband Jared Kushner. The emails were discovered last fall by White House ethics officials in a public-records lawsuit that required a review of emails involving five Cabinet agencies.
But Mr. Trump noted that, unlike Mrs. Clinton, his daughter never deleted any emails or smashed any servers and eventually turned them over to the White House once she was briefed on email protocols.
“They’re all in presidential records. There was no hiding,” he said. “Hillary Clinton deleted 33,000 e-mails; she had a server in the basement. That’s the real story.”
Nevertheless, members of both parties on Capitol Hill said they wanted explanations.
Democrats vowed Tuesday to investigate the matter when they take control of the House in January to see whether the first daughter broke the Presidential Records Act or other federal record-keeping laws, though they insisted they wouldn’t engage in mere payback for the Clinton email fracas.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, Maryland Democrat and the expected chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, said Tuesday that he will resume next year an investigation into White House officials’ use of private email, which Republicans had dropped, and will ask for White House records regarding Ms. Trump, her husband Jared Kushner, and other senior officials.
“My goal is to prevent this from happening again — not to turn this into a spectacle the way Republicans went after Hillary Clinton,” Mr. Cummings said. “My main priority as Chairman will be to focus on the issues that impact Americans in their everyday lives.”
Also Tuesday, the Republican chairmen of both chambers’ oversight committees — Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina — sent letters to the White House asking for a briefing and written responses.
According to the Associated Press, both men want an accounting of the emails and a certification that they had been preserved according with federal law. Mr. Gowdy’s letter also sought an answer on whether any emails contained sensitive or classified information.
As for Mr. Trump, despite his confirming the essentials of the Post story, he still called it “fake news.”
“You’re talking about a whole different — you’re talking about all fake news … there was no nothing. What it is, is a false story,” he told reporters Tuesday afternoon.
According to the Post report, that Ms. Trump did this surprised White House aides, because of how much political hay her father had made over Mrs. Clinton’s emails and how widely and deeply covered the story had been in the 2016 presidential campaign.
“Some aides were … taken aback by her response when questioned about the practice. Trump said she was not familiar with some details of the rules, according to people with knowledge of her reaction,” the Post wrote.
The liberal watchdog group American Oversight filed the public-records requests that led to the discovery of how extensively Ms. Trump was using her private email account to correspond with Small Business Administration chief Linda McMahon, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and other officials
Austin Evers, the group’s executive director, said in a statement Tuesday, that “the president’s family is not above the law.”
“For more than two years, President Trump and senior leaders in Congress have made it very clear that they view the use of personal email servers for government business to be a serious offense that demands investigation and even prosecution, and we expect the same standard will be applied in this case,” he said.
⦁ Dave Boyer and Gabriella Muñoz contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire-service reports.