A lot of people are very interested in Jared Kushner’s communications records:
- This week, he voluntarily handed over documents this week to the Senate intelligence committee about his contacts with Russian government representatives during the presidential campaign and transition.
- House Democrats have demanded that the White House turn over all documents and communications referring to his Russian contacts.
- Special counsel Robert Mueller has asked the White House to preserve its records of meetings with the Russians—including the Trump Tower meeting that Donald Trump Jr. invited Kushner to join.
Splinter has confirmed, however, that Kushner downloaded an encrypted messaging app that lets users send disappearing messages. The app, Signal, is popular among journalists and political operatives hoping to communicate securely and confidentially—and without a trace.
Because it can hide communications, White House officials who use the app may be in violation of the Presidential Records Act. Last month, two watchdog groups sued the White House, claiming that widespread use of such apps violates the act—and that the Trump Administration has failed to adopt policies to ensure that all communications about government business are retained.
In February, according to Politico, former White House press secretary Sean Spicer ordered staffers to hand over their phones for a spot check aimed at cracking down on leaks to reporters. During the phone check, Spicer warned staffers not to use encrypted texting apps—specifically warning them that using Signal was a violation of the act.
A phone number belonging to Kushner is registered in Signal. So is a phone number for Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen; even though he doesn’t work for the White House, he remains in contact with Trump and his staff.
A tweet from Elizabeth Spiers, who once worked for Kushner as editor-in-chief of the New York Observer, suggests Kushner downloaded the encrypted messaging app at the end of January, just four days before Trump officially became president:
Incoming text: "Jared Kushner is on Signal, say hey!" Good, I guess? Maybe he can explain encryption/"the cyber" to his FIL.
— Elizabeth Spiers (@espiers) January 17, 2017
As Splinter notes, if Kushner is using Signal for government communication—whether because he’s wary of being hacked by Russia, or because he’s afraid surveillance closer to home—he would be legally required to preserve those records.
This is putting the best face on Kushner using such an app. Given his attempt to set up back-channel communications with Russia even before his father-in-law’s inauguration, it’s much more likely that he’s using the app to hide evidence of wrongdoing.
In either case, using the app puts Kushner in violation of federal law.
What do you think?