A panel of U.S. lawmakers voted on Thursday to authorize subpoenas for communications sent by senior Trump administration officials through private email and messaging services, escalating a probe into potential violations of government record-keeping laws.
The U.S. House of Representatives' Oversight Committee, which is led Democrats, voted 23-16 along party lines to allow its chairman, Elijah Cummings, to issue the subpoenas to White House officials including President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
“The Committee has obtained direct evidence that multiple high-level White House officials have been violating the Presidential Records Act by using personal email accounts, text messaging services, and even encrypted applications for official business, and not preserving those records in compliance with federal law," Cummings said in a statement.
No response from White House
Cummings said the subpoena was necessary because the White House had not turned over a "single piece of paper" this year in response to the investigation.
Trump's fellow Republicans said at a hearing on Thursday that the investigation was politically motivated and unnecessary.
"This is getting into nothing but an attempt to go after the family of the president in an attempt to further go after the president himself," said Representative Jody Hice of Georgia.
Trump pilloried his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, in the 2016 presidential campaign for her use of a private email server when she was secretary of state. He continues to refer to her emails in speeches and on Twitter.
WhatsApp messaging application used
CNN reported last year that Kushner communicated with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman via the WhatsApp messaging application owned by Facebook Inc.
The Republican leaders of the oversight panel had also sought information on use of non-official messaging by White House staff in 2017 and 2018. Democrats took over the panel after winning the House of Representatives in 2018 elections.