Moreover, ignorance of the law is no excuse—especially given that the president perpetually portrays himself as the defender of “law and order,” the only bulwark against disorder and chaos caused by Democratic “mobs.” Yet whenever the Trump White House has fallen afoul of rules or the president has overstepped his bounds, his defenders say he should be forgiven because he is not a career politician and is still learning the job. The same defense apparently applies to his daughter. It’s unclear what the imaginary statute of limitations is on this imaginary get-out-of-jail-free card.
And yet this is not the first such revelation about Trump administration officials using personal email in violation of the rules. Last fall, it emerged that six White House aides had used personal email—including Ivanka Trump’s husband, Jared Kushner, who is also a senior adviser. The couple even set up their own email server, “ijkfamily.com,” echoing the “clintonemail.com” that Clinton had used.
As I wrote last fall, this was the behavior of staffers who, like the president, know quite well that rules exist but are convinced that they are not bound by them. As it happens, that’s the same charge made against Clinton.
The spokesman for Ivanka Trump’s lawyer sought to draw further distinctions from Clinton. “Ms. Trump did not create a private server in her house or office, no classified information was ever included, the account was never transferred at Trump Organization, and no emails were ever deleted,” he said.
But how can the public know whether those claims are true? Clinton also insisted that she had never sent or received classified information, which turned out to be false. In Trump’s case, Americans are forced to rely on the good faith of the attorney hired to defend her. Trump’s team says it sorted her personal emails, determined which ones were government-related, and handed those over for record-keeping. According to the Post, the White House counsel couldn’t review the emails, because it would risk violating attorney-client privilege covering messages between Trump and her attorneys.
Read: Why is Jared Kushner still in the White House?
Clinton also relied on her attorneys to sort her emails and hand over the relevant ones. If one thought that was insufficient and raised the specter that she could have hidden (and then deleted) relevant messages—an entirely defensible view, and one that Donald Trump offered during rallies in 2016—it’s hard to see why Ivanka Trump’s situation is more acceptable.
The scale of the Clinton and Trump uses is different. Clinton used a personal server for four years while serving as secretary of state; Trump used personal email for part of a year. The hypocrisy is real, however, and the rules were broken. (Meanwhile, the president himself continues to use an unencrypted cellphone to make calls, despite warnings that he is likely to be surveilled by foreign powers.)