WASHINGTON — Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Friday that White House lawyers acknowledged that "several" Trump administration officials "confessed" to using private email accounts for government business.
But the Baltimore Democrat said the Trump administration has declined to identify which staff members came forward. In a letter Friday to the committee's chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy, Cummings requested that Republicans continue to press the administration on the issue.
Cummings wrote that attorneys briefed members of the committee this week and reported that several White House staff reported that they had not forwarded personal emails to their governmental email accounts within 20 days, as is required by the Presidential Records Act.
"However, the White House officials refused to identify these employees," Cummings wrote.
Cummings added that if Gowdy doesn't press the White House to name the officials involved that the committee "essentially will be abdicating its oversight responsibilities under the Constitution by walling off the White House from serious congressional scrutiny."
Gowdy said the "government-wide" investigation into the use of private email is ongoing and said the assertion that the White House has not cooperated is false.
"Our investigation into private email use for official business is government-wide and not about one entity," Gowdy said in a statement. "Allegations that we have completed our engagement with the White House on this issue are absurd."
Gowdy said he had a phone call with a member of Trump's cabinet on the issue Friday morning.
"We need the documents," he said. "Not the drama."
Gowdy and Cummings signed a letter last month requesting information about the emails and gave the White House until Oct. 10 to respond. Cummings said the administration responded with a two-page letter that did not provide specifics but said that "the White House has endeavored to educate all White House employees regarding their responsibilities under" record retention laws.
A White House official said the administration instructs employees to "fully comply with the Presidential Records Act and applicable guidelines for work-related communications" and said that the administration would "work with Congress as it engages in oversight on this issue."