White House Aides May Face Criminal Charges For Using Auto-Delete Apps

These are tense times at the White House. As multiple investigations into the possibility of collusion with Russian agents continue and special counsel Robert Mueller begins his work, it’s safe to assume that aides and advisers to President Trump are on edge and worried about the next shoe to drop.

Add to that the fact that if any of those aides used any so-called auto-delete apps (Confide, Signal, WhatsApp) and failed to retain any files relevant to the investigation, they could be facing some stiff legal penalties. As Politico writer Darren Samuelsohn explains:

“Hanging over them all: any failure to keep track of emails, messages and other records could expose them to criminal charges down the line.”

The Trump White House was put on notice in Februrary that they were expected to produce all documents related to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the 2016 election and possibly interference. And the law is very clear exactly what that means:

“Under U.S. criminal law, documents must be preserved once an individual is aware they may become relevant to an investigation, even if there’s no formal notice one has begun.”

Ian Bassin, who worked in President Barack Obama’s White House counsel office, said Trump staffers would be wise to be familiar with the laws that apply to them and be careful not to use any apps which might destroy evidence:

“The rule of law depends on lawyers and other sworn public servants actually caring to follow it — preserving documents, not tampering with evidence, not interfering with investigations. This takes knowledge of the rules and effort to abide by them, two things that seem to be in short supply in this White House. They’d be wise to fix that quickly if they want to avoid what can be serious legal consequences for individual lawyers and staffers who get this stuff wrong.”

Think about it: You’re a staff member and you skate on the larger conspiracy and obstruction charges, only to find yourself facing several years in prison because you had a file-deleting app on your cell phone. That’s what you call going from all clear to right back into the frying pan.

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