The scandal-ridden swamp known as the Trump administration keeps getting murkier by the minute. The new wave of mud to hit the fraudulent administration involves Donald Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, New York authorities revealed Tuesday.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Tillerson used an email alias to discuss climate change while he was Exxon Mobil Corp.’s chief executive: Wayne Tracker.
Tillerson sent messages from the “Wayne Tracker” account to discuss matters of climate change as those topics related to ExxonMobil, Schneiderman said in a court filing about his office’s fraud investigation of the company. Schneiderman subpoenaed documents from Exxon concerning how much they knew about the impact the company was having on climate change. When Exxon supplied the court ordered information, e-mails from the “Wayne Tracker” account were omitted.
“Tillerson used this secondary email address to send and receive materials regarding important matters, including those concerning to the risk-management issues related to climate change that are the focus of the investigation,” said John Oleske, Senior Enforcement Counsel in the attorney general’s office.
New York’s claim marks the latest email-handling matter to hit the Trump administration. Vice President Mike Pence also used a private email account to conduct some official business as governor of Indiana and tried to cover it up.
The existence of the secondary email account was discovered by Schneiderman’s team while reviewing other Exxon documents. New York claims the Irving, Texas-based energy giant has failed to turn over thousands of relevant files. In addition to climate change, the alias account was also used to discuss other “important matters” that weren’t specified in the letter.
The development “raises a lot of questions” about whether Exxon complied with the subpoena, said Carrie Cohen, a former federal prosecutor in Manhattan who is now a white-collar criminal-defense lawyer at Morrison & Foerster in New York.
“It could be misleading to not tell the attorney general the actual owner of that email address,” said Cohen, who isn’t involved in the dispute.
In December, Exxon hit a snag in its legal fight to derail the investigations on the company’s home turf, when US District Judge Ed Kinkeade canceled the deposition of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who’d been ordered to appear in Dallas to be questioned under oath by Exxon’s lawyers.
ExxonMobil has been heavily engaged in a legal battle with Schneiderman and the state of New York, who alleges that while leading Exxon, Tillerson knowingly misled people about the company’s knowledge of their impact on climate change.
Donald Trump argues the investigations were started in “bad faith” because the attorneys general had reached their conclusions beforehand after extensive meetings with environmentalists.
Schneiderman rejects the allegations and contends the federal government cannot interfere in their investigations.
“If they had nothing to hide, then why the secret email account?” said Jamie Henn, a spokesman for the environmental group 350.org, which has supported the state probes into Exxon.