As far as 2016 Donald Trump was concerned, there was little worse than a high-ranking government official using private email; this was something that warranted prison time for Hillary Clinton. Now we find out that not only did Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, do it, but so did his daughter Ivanka Trump.
The Washington Post’s Carol D. Leonnig and Josh Dawsey broke that story Monday night. Those speaking for Ivanka Trump insist that she didn’t transmit any classified information and simply wasn’t properly told to avoid any use of private email for government business.
But that’s also kind of the point: If this was such an enormous betrayal of the public trust for Clinton, how was it not a massive point of emphasis for the Trump White House? And what’s more, how on Earth did Ivanka Trump not realize how problematic this would be after what happened in 2016?
The situations aren’t exactly apples to apples. Clinton was routinely dealing with sensitive information as secretary of state and actually set up a private server; Ivanka Trump’s use seemed to involve transmitting her personal schedule and smaller-scale things.
But the whole episode adds to a laundry list of things the Trump White House has done that look a whole lot like the things it excoriated its predecessor (Barack Obama) and its 2016 opponent (Clinton) for.
Here are the big ones.
Emails and information security
What President Trump said: “Hillary Clinton’s attacks on you display the same sense of arrogance and entitlement that led her to violate federal law as secretary of state, hide and delete her emails ... ”
"We can’t hand over our government to someone whose deepest, darkest secrets may be in the hands of our enemies.”
What he has done: Before Ivanka Trump, it was Kushner who used private email in an apparent violation of federal records laws. But that’s not all. President Trump has reportedly shunned security concerns by continuing to use his personal cellphone. He has done this even as he has been told that China and Russia are monitoring the phone — exactly what he worried about when it came to such countries potentially hacking Clinton’s server.
At the least, you’d think a guy who was so concerned about records laws and cybersecurity would take more care.
Foreign governments allegedly buying access
What Trump said: “Hillary Clinton ran the State Department like a personal hedge fund. It’s hard to tell where the Clinton Foundation ends and where the State Department begins. Access and favors were sold for cash. It’s called pay-for-play. Over and over and over, people who donated to the Clinton Foundation or who gave money to Bill Clinton got favorable treatment from Hillary Clinton’s State Department.”
What he has done: Another of Trump’s favorite knocks on Clinton was the idea that foreign governments were buying access to and favors from the Clintons via donations to the Clinton Foundation. But since he has become president, foreign dignitaries and anxious would-be influencers have frequented Trump’s hotel in Washington — apparently in hopes of currying favor. The foreign clientele is at the center of an emoluments lawsuit that has proceeded apace.
What Trump said: “Fact — Obama does not read his intelligence briefings nor does he get briefed in person by the CIA or DOD. Too busy I guess!”
“Obama has missed 58% of his intelligence briefings. But our president does make 100% of his fundraisers.”
What he has done: Trump’s criticism was always overcooked. Obama didn’t always get an in-person briefing, but he often read the his daily briefing instead. Trump doesn’t even do that. He has taken the briefing about once a week or less and often deputized Vice President Pence to receive it. He reportedly doesn’t read it. “I get it when I need it,” Trump said. “I’m, like, a smart person. I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years.”
Divulging classified information
What Trump said: “We can’t have someone in the Oval Office who doesn’t understand the meaning of the word ‘confidential’ or ‘classified.’"
“Like the Cold War, we also need to fight this battle by collecting intelligence and then protecting our classified secrets. Hillary Clinton has taught us all how much of a problem we have with cybersecurity.”
What he has done: In an Oval Office meeting last year with officials from our Cold War opponent, Russia, Trump divulged highly classified information about a valuable stream of intelligence in the Middle East. As president, Trump is able to declassify anything he wants, but the intelligence community fretted that the information would tip the Russians off to what the program entailed and who was involved, which was a closely guarded secret.
Executive orders to change the law
What Trump said: “Repubs must not allow Pres Obama to subvert the Constitution of the US for his own benefit & because he is unable to negotiate w/ Congress.”
“My contract calls for the appointment of judges who will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. Hillary wants to go even further than Obama on illegal executive action. I will terminate every single illegal Obama executive order and will restore the constitutional rule of law.”
What he has done: Trump has used executive orders to institute, among other things, a ban on travel from majority-Muslim countries and attempts to ban those arriving at the Southern border from receiving asylum. He has often had those orders halted by the courts. And this month, Trump even floated the idea of getting rid of birthright citizenship via executive action, which most experts regard as illegally trying to change the Constitution with the stroke of a pen.
What Trump said: I’ll let this tweet sum it up.
What he has done: Trump has golfed far more often than Obama ever did.