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Trump Denies any Knowledge of Kushner’s Unofficial Communications on Whatsapp

"I know nothing about it. I've never heard that, I've never heard about it," the Republican president said

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FILE - White House adviser Jared Kushner speaks with people as they wait for President Donald Trump to arrive in the East Room of the White House, June 29, 2018. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday said he knew nothing about son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner’s use of the WhatsApp encrypted messaging tool, a day after a top U.S. Democratic congressman questioned the unofficial communications.

On Thursday, U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings asked the White House about Kushner’s use of the unofficial messaging application as part of his government work.

In a letter to the White House, seen by Reuters, Cummings said Kushner’s lawyer had told lawmakers about his WhatsApp use for official duties, a move that would violate current law prohibiting White House officials from using non-official electronic messaging accounts.

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FILE – Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., speaks to reporters during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 27, 2017. VOA

Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House before departing for Mar-A-Lago, his private club in Florida, for the weekend, denied any knowledge of Kushner’s unofficial communications.

“I know nothing about it. I’ve never heard that, I’ve never heard about it,” the Republican president said.

Cummings in his letter on Thursday said Kushner lawyer Abbe Lowell also told Congress that Ivanka Trump — the president’s daughter, Kushner’s wife and also a top White House adviser — continued to use a personal email account for official business.

That would also violate the Presidential Records Act.

‘Not completely accurate’

Lowell, in a separate letter to Cummings, called the Democratic committee chairman’s characterization of earlier comments “not completely accurate.”

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Trump knew nothing about son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner’s use of the WhatsApp encrypted messaging tool. VOA

The lawyer denied telling Congress members Kushner had communicated through any app with foreign “leaders” or “officials” but said that instead Kushner had used such apps for communicating with “some people,” whom he did not specify.

Lowell also denied saying that Ivanka Trump continued to receive emails related to official business on a personal account. He said Ivanka Trump “always forwards official business to her White House account.”

ALSO READ: Trump’s Son-in-Law, Jared Kushner’s Whatsapp Habits Worry Cyber Experts

In the 2016 presidential race, Trump railed against his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, for her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state, inspiring chants at his rallies of “lock her up.” The FBI and the Department of Justice investigated Clinton but brought no charges.

Kushner’s communications, particularly with foreign leaders, have been under scrutiny since the presidential campaign, and questions have been raised about his security clearance. WhatsApp is owned by Facebook Inc. (VOA)

Next Story

Trump to Pursue Higher Sales Age for Vaping Devices: ‘An Age Limit of 21 or So’

Trump told reporters his administration will release its final plans for restricting e-cigarettes next week but provided few other details

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President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Nov. 8, 2019. VOA

President Donald Trump said Friday his administration will pursue raising the age to purchase electronic cigarettes from 18 to 21 in its upcoming plans to combat youth vaping.

Trump told reporters his administration will release its final plans for restricting e-cigarettes next week but provided few other details.

“We have to take care of our kids, most importantly, so we’re going to have an age limit of 21 or so,” said Trump, speaking outside the White House.

Currently the minimum age to purchase any tobacco or vaping product is 18, under federal law. But more than one-third of U.S. states have already raised their sales age to 21.

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FILE – A woman buys refills for her Juul at a smoke shop in New York, Dec. 20, 2018. VOA

A federal law raising the purchase age would require congressional action.

Administration officials were widely expected to release plans this week for removing virtually all flavored e-cigarettes from the market. Those products are blamed for soaring rates of underage use by U.S. teenagers.

However, no details have yet appeared, leading vaping critics to worry that the administration is backing away from its original plan.

Trump resisted any specifics on the scope of the restrictions.

Also Read- US Officials Identify ‘Strong Culprit’ in Vaping Illnesses

“We’re talking about the age, we’re talking about flavors, we’re also talking about keeping people working — there are some pretty good aspects,” Trump said.

Mint flavor

Underage vaping has reached what health officials call epidemic levels. In the latest government survey, 1 in 4 high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the previous month.

Fruit, candy, dessert and other sweet vaping flavors have been targeted because of their appeal to underage users.

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FILE – A man blows a puff of smoke as he vapes with an electronic cigarette, Oct. 18, 2019. VOA

On Thursday, Juul Labs, the nation’s largest e-cigarette maker, announced it would voluntarily pull its mint-flavored e-cigarettes from the market. That decision followed new research that Juul’s mint is the top choice for many high school students who vape.

With the removal of mint, Juul only sells two flavors: tobacco and menthol.

Vaping critics say menthol must be a part of the flavor ban to prevent teens who currently use mint from switching over.

‘Tobacco 21’ law

Also Read- Nobody Takes Serious Speeches of Movie Stars Seriously, Says Bollywood Star Shah Rukh Khan

Juul and other tobacco companies have lobbied in support of a federal “Tobacco 21” law to reverse teen use of both e-cigarettes and traditional tobacco products. The effort also has broad bipartisan support in Congress, including a bill introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The logic for hiking the purchase age for cigarettes and other products is clear: Most underage teens who use e-cigarettes or tobacco get it from older friends. Raising the minimum age to 21 is expected to limit the supply of those products in U.S. schools.

Delaying access to cigarettes is also expected to produce major downstream health benefits, with one government-funded report estimating nearly 250,000 fewer deaths due to tobacco over several decades.

Still, anti-tobacco groups have insisted that any “Tobacco 21” law must be accompanied by a ban on flavors, which they say are the primary reason young people use e-cigarettes. (VOA)