Oct 24, 2019

National Archives launches inquiry into Wilbur Ross' private emails

Wilbur Ross. Photo: Dominik Bindl/Getty Images

The National Archives and Records Administration has initiated an investigation into Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross' use of private email to conduct official business, Politico reports.

The big picture: Reports have emerged of eight current and former Trump administration officials who used personal email accounts for government business, including senior White House adviser Ivanka Trump.

Flashback: Hillary Clinton was grilled by conservatives during her presidential run in 2016 for her use of a private email server as U.S. secretary of state.

Driving the news: The investigation was launched after the Washington Post reported a watchdog group filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit and obtained evidence that Ross used personal accounts to send and receive correspondence with European trade officials, details on meetings with German auto manufacturers and billionaire Bill Koch.

  • The National Archives sent a letter to the Department of Commerce on Oct. 9, citing FOIA which "prohibits employees from creating or sending a record using a non-official messaging account unless the employee copies his or her official email account when the record is first transmitted, or forwards a complete copy of the record to the official email account within 20 days of the record's original transmission."
  • A spokesperson from the Commerce Department told Axios: "We look forward to engaging and cooperating with the National Archives and Records Administration on their investigation, which originated from baseless allegations in news reports."

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Michigan governor won't apologize for coronavirus lockdown

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer defended the strictness of her state's coronavirus lockdown in an interview with "Axios on HBO," saying it was necessary — despite the protests that have drawn national attention — because of how quickly the state's cases were rising.

The big picture: Whitmer, who has been a frequent target of President Trump, insisted that she had to act in the face of a lack of federal leadership — and that thousands more people in her state would have died without the lockdown.

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has only one novel coronavirus patient in hospital and just 22 active cases in the country, top health official Ashley Bloomfield confirmed at a briefing. He's "confident we have broken the chain of domestic transmission," with no new cases reported for most of May, he added.

By the numbers: Brazil on Monday recorded for the first time more deaths from the novel coronavirus in a single day than the United States, Reuters notes. Brazil reported 807 deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, compared to 620 in the U.S. for the same period.