Fox News and the whole right-wing mediasphere have been harping away on the story that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s team “illegally” or “inappropriately” accessed the Trump transition organization’s email that they claim are somehow privileged and not subject to release without their permission, even though they were hosted on a Government Services Administration (GSA) server.
Now, according to an article in Business Insider, the lawyer for the transition team has admitted that he sent a letter to Congress alleging the inappropriate behavior without even speaking with the Special Prosecutor’s team or the GSA. Shortly after the attorney, Kory Langhofer, sent the letter, it was leaked to Fox News and the calls for Mueller’s firing came fast and furious from rabid Trump defenders.
The fact that the lawyer didn’t even bother to speak to Mueller or the government agency responsible for hosting and archiving the emails in question point to the real truth about tbis made up scandal, that it’s all a media stunt designed to rile up Trump’s right-wing base and get them to lobby for Mueller’s dismissal.
The concept that government emails are private property seems laughable after Republicans in Congress spent millions of taxpayer dollars investigating the Hillary Clinton emails that were on a private server, but that was the argument that Langhofer made in his leaked congressional letter. And where were all the Republicans (or Democrats, for that matter) demanding that the leak itself be investigated, since they seem to focus on the leaks rather than the potential crime every time something dastardly slithers out of the WHite House?
Most legal experts, as well as former transition team leaders from the Obama administration, all agree that staffers using servers with the “.gov” domain suffix for their email have no reasonable expectation of privacy, similarly to people who send email from their work email addresses.
A former Federal prosecutor, Jeffrey Cramer, told Business Insider that:
“‘This is not a problem. The server owner, in this case GSA, properly has the emails and can turn them over if there was a subpoena or court order,’ he said, in the same way that internet providers and banks can provide emails and records about clients to law enforcement.”
Another factor in dismissing claims of inappropriate access to the emails by Mueller’s team is the fact that transition team employees signed a memo of understanding that stipulates that their devices could be monitored. Additionally, The GSA’s Rules of Behavior for Handling Personally Identifiable Information state that “a system manager may disclose your record without your consent under the Privacy Act when the disclosure is to a US law enforcement agency or instrumentality for a civil or criminal law enforcement purpose.”
The dicey nature of Langhofer’s claims, coupled with the fact that he complained to Congress before even speaking to Mueller or the GSA about it, pretty much proves that the entire brouhaha is just one giant PR stunt. Let’s hope that everyone stops falling for this one very soon.