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[Updated] Bit of Hypocrisy for You: Trump’s Senior Staff Use Private RNC E-mail Servers

"But her e-mails..."

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It’s been recently revealed that some of Trump’s most senior staff officials—Kellyanne “Alternative Facts” Conway, Jared Kushner, Sean “Dippin’ Dots” Spicer, and Steve “Breitbart Neo-Nazi” Bannon—are using private e-mail servers to handle official business. The private server in question actually belongs to the Republican National Convention headquarters (rnchq.org), and technically isn’t illegal, according to Newsweek’s report on the matter.

However, there is a law (“Disclosure Requirement For Official Business Conducted Using Electronic Messaging Accounts”) which states that any staffer who uses the private server has to forward their e-mails to the government within 20 days. Here’s the thing about this RNC server, though: between 2003 and 2009, the George W. Bush administration “lost” 22 million e-mails that passed through said server. They were never forwarded to the government, and they remain, up until now, gone. Additionally, the server is known to be compromised, as U.S. intelligence agencies revealed that Russians had found their way into the server during the 2016 election.

Of course, lest we forget, one of the major talking points of this election centered around Hillary Clinton’s use of private family e-mail servers to conduct official business as Secretary of State under President Obama. This act in particular is considered illegal, as she used a private family server as opposed to an official political party server. However, after an FBI investigation into the e-mails, FBI Director James Comey recommended in a statement that no charges should be filed against her.

Cut to: the weeks before the election, when Comey announced that he would be re-opening the investigation into the e-mails, only to re-iterate that she shouldn’t be charged mere days before the election. Pundits and analysts theorized that Comey’s announcement may have destabilized Clinton’s campaign enough that it may have been one of the largest deciding factors in her loss.

The hypocrisy is strong, here, as one of Trump’s major talking points at every debate was Clinton’s e-mail investigation. To learn that his staff is bordering on doing the same exact thing makes their entire platform look bad, though one has to wonder: how much of an effect is that going to have on Trump supporters who were so viciously calling for Clinton to be imprisoned for her non-existent charges?

Again, it’s not exactly illegal (yet) that the staffers are using the RNC server. They have 20 days to forward those e-mails to the government. But once again, given the notoriously sketchy history of that server, who knows if that will actually happen? Moreover, who knows if those involved will even be prosecuted if that should come to pass?

[Update]:

According to an e-mail sent to my personal e-mail account, the RNC believes this to be a non story. Deputy Press Secretary Steve Guest writes:

This is a non story.

There is nothing wrong with having an RNC account if it is not used for any official government business.

In this case the officials previously employed by the Trump Campaign (aka Kellyanne, Bannon, Jared) never had functional email accounts with the RNC.

The RNC has various distribution lists to communicate with state parties or campaigns and as a byproduct these contact groups are assigned RNCHQ.org addresses that only forward to external accounts at their respective organizations.

The message appears to be similar to one sent to Newsweek, who originally broke the story. In addition to their update, though, they write that the RNC deleted Conway, Bannon, and Kushner’s e-mails.

That isn’t all, though. Guest’s e-mail also included:

As for Spicer he was employed here less than a week ago, give me a break.

While there are many things I’d like to say to that, I have to take it in for a moment and think about how strangely unprofessional that final swipe feels. I understand that we here at The Mary Sue tend to editorialize (because we’re an opinion blog), but if the Deputy Press Secretary of the Republican National Convention wants to submit a correction or clarification, I thought it might behoove them to come correct with it and be professional. (Take the high road, as it were.)

But given this, in addition to the fact that this e-mail from the Deputy Press Secretary of the Republican National Convention was sent to my personal e-mail address, not my address here at The Mary Sue, I have to wonder just what is up with all of that? That “give me a break” snip felt a bit uncalled for in a correction e-mail. To be completely honest, I can understand why they would want the clarification and update, and up until that point the e-mail was courteous enough, but that last personal note pushed it over the edge, I’d say.

And really, why was this sent to my personal e-mail and not to my TMS e-mail?

I’m not the hardest person to find online, but I still had to pause and think on the fact that the literal Deputy Press Secretary had to Google me in order to find that personal e-mail rather than attempt to go through our About page (which has all of our Mary Sue e-mail addresses) or even our [email protected] address.

If the actual Republican National Convention wants to put on airs and say that it’s worthy of our respect and trust, I’d think that being courteous (at the very least) with a writer (who apparently pinged on your radar loud enough) might be lesson number one for press outreach.

Instead, though, what I have is an eye-rolling swipe embedded into a correction e-mail that was sent to my personal address because the Deputy Press Secretary of the Republican National Convention couldn’t be bothered to find my actual press e-mail.

Give me a break.

(via Engadget, image via Shutterstock)

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Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (thebolditalic.com), and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters (spinningplatters.com). She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.