Government Officials Used Personal Phones, Despite Advice

White House officials are clearly instructed: Don't use your personal phones for official business. But some aides appear to have done it anyway, and it's getting fresh scrutiny along with questions about the use of personal email accounts.

The inquiries into private communication could prove uncomfortable for President Donald Trump, who relentlessly attacked Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email account and server during her time as secretary of state.

Multiple current and former Trump White House officials have used private email accounts and texts from personal phones for private conversations, sometimes using encrypted messaging apps. That's despite clear directives not to use personal devices for administration business and to save the records if they do.

House lawmakers have requested more information about the use of private email addresses and texting or the use of messaging apps on personal phones. They're also asking about the oversight and record-keeping policies of the Trump White House. They acted after word surfaced that White House adviser Jared Kushner set up a private email account after the election to conduct work-related business.

Further, The New York Times recently reported the names of six close Trump advisers, including Kushner, Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus, who have used private email to discuss White House matters. Bannon and Priebus no longer work at the White House.

The extent of private communications on personal phones -- or whether records were retained -- is not clear.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and the top Democrat on that panel, Rep. Elijah Cummings, sent letters Monday to the White House general counsel and the State Department. They said they want more details on whether staffers are using personal emails, texting or encrypted messaging applications, and if they are preserving the records.

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