White House illegally destroyed emails

The Bush Administration knowingly and openly violated the law by deleting email records for 51 White officials who had email accounts with the Republican National Committee.

A report issued Monday by the House Oversight Committee says the White House eliminated the email records to thwart a Congressional investigation into overt political activity by the White House.

The House investigation also found the White House lied about the number of staff members with the illegal RNC email accounts and deliberately concealed details on usage of the accounts.

The actions, the report concluded, are “extensive violations” of the federal law that requires preservation of White House records.

Reports The Associated Press:

The administration has said that about 50 White House officials had RNC e-mail accounts during Bush’s presidency. But the House committee found at least 88.

The RNC has preserved e-mails from some of the heaviest users, including 140,216 messages sent or received by Bush’s top political adviser in the White House, Karl Rove. However, “the RNC has preserved no e-mails for 51 officials,” said the interim report, issued by committee chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif.

The 51 include Ken Mehlman, a former White House political director who reportedly used his RNC account frequently, the report said.

“Given the heavy reliance by White House officials on RNC e-mail accounts, the high rank of the White House officials involved, and the large quantity of missing e-mails,” the report said, “the potential violation of the Presidential Records Act may be extensive.”

Republicans said there is no evidence that the law was violated or that the missing e-mails were of a government rather than political nature.

The records act requires presidents to assure that “the activities, deliberations, decisions, and policies that reflect the performance” of their duties are “adequately documented … and maintained,” the report said.

White House press secretary Tony Snow told reporters he would not “respond specifically” to the committee’s findings but said the RNC e-mail accounts “were designed precisely to avoid Hatch Act violations that prohibit the use of government assets for certain political activities.” He added, “the RNC has had an e-mail preservation policy for White House staffers.”

Congressional Democrats are investigating whether White House officials used RNC e-mail accounts to conduct overtly political, and perhaps improper, activities such as planning which U.S. prosecutors to fire and preparing partisan briefings for employees in federal agencies.

Waxman’s committee is contacting numerous federal agencies to determine whether their records “contain some of the White House e-mails that have been destroyed by the RNC,” the report said.

In a statement, Waxman said the panel’s findings “should be a matter of grave concern for anyone who values open government.” He said the committee will investigate “who knew about the violations of the Presidential Records Act, why they did not act earlier, and what e-mails can be salvaged from RNC, White House, and agency computer systems.”

The committee’s top Republican, Tom Davis of Virginia, criticized the report, saying the panel should obtain more conclusive evidence before accusing the RNC and White House of wrongdoing. The evidence thus far, he said, “simply does not support the report’s breathless conclusions.”

Tracey Schmitt, a spokeswoman for the RNC, said the report appears to present Democrats’ partisan spin as fact.

“Not only have we been clear that we are continuing our efforts to search for e-mails, but there is no basis for an assumption that any e-mail not already found would be of an official nature,” she said.

The report especially criticized Alberto Gonzales, now the attorney general, for actions when he headed the White House Counsel’s office. There is evidence that under Gonzales the office “may have known that White House officials were using RNC e-mail accounts for official business, but took no action to preserve these presidential records,” the report said.

Snow said of the claim: “That’s an allegation. We’ll respond to it in due course.”

The report said the House committee may need to issue subpoenas “to obtain the cooperation of the Bush Cheney ’04 campaign.” It said the campaign acknowledges providing e-mail accounts “to 11 White House officials, but the campaign has unjustifiably refused to provide the committee with basic information about these accounts, such as the identity of the White House officials and the number of e-mails that have been preserved.

Eric Kuwana, the Bush-Cheney campaign’s counsel, said the requested documents “have no articulated connection” to the panel’s investigation “and very well may be the type and nature of political documents that are specifically exempt from the Presidential Records Act.”

The House committee report said Rove’s RNC e-mail account carried 75,374 messages to or from people with government, or .gov, accounts. It said the RNC has preserved 66,018 e-mails sent to or from former White House political affairs director Sara Taylor, and 35,198 sent to or from deputy director Scott Jennings.

“These e-mail accounts were used by White House officials for official purposes, such as communicating with federal agencies about federal appointments and policies,” the report said.

It said the White House counsel in early 2001 “issued clear written policies” instructing staffers “to use only the official White House e-mail system for official communications and to retain any official e-mails they received on a nongovernmental account.” Recent evidence “indicates that White House officials used their RNC e-mail accounts in a manner that circumvented these requirements,” the report said.

14 Responses to "White House illegally destroyed emails"

  1. Klaus Hergeschimmer  June 19, 2007 at 6:23 pm

    If only the word IMPEACHMENT was not a discouraging word
    with Nancy Pelosi & Harry Reid.

  2. Sandra Price  June 19, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    Yep Checkerboard, I am naive and have been for many years but I keep hoping. Isn’t there a law of averages that we might, by accident, find an honest man? No, Jeff, you are right, I am old and naive. Nice to see your posts here as this is the only place I can comment.

    Sandy

  3. CheckerboardStrangler  June 19, 2007 at 6:30 pm

    You’re not old and naive…you have a two hundred year old sales pitch nipping at your heels.
    So do we all. We just have to get up the gumption to read the fine print is all:

    http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/D/1776-1800/independence/doi.htm

  4. CheckerboardStrangler  June 19, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    Consider that 98 percent of all significant social change is based on one thing…LACK OF COMFORT.
    Bread and circuses, my friend, bread and circuses.
    We’ve proven as a nation that we are not “smarter than yeast” and so therefore prepare for another repeat in history, the fall of the Roman Empire, or the British Empire, but remember this also…the words which should be carved into the Washington Monument for all to see when they come to learn the last passing dialogues of this modern day Nero Bush:

    “We’re an EMPIRE now, and when we act we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality–judiciously, as you will–we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

    The future students of history will be from “the reality based community” because reality has a hasty habit of catching up every now and then.

  5. rjf7r  June 19, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    I’m afraid that the cost of “every cover up, every lie and every effort to destroy evidence” will be momentary embarrassment. The political benefit of those activities will be … priceless.

    If it isn’t already, the tactics of the Bush white house will become SOP for administrations to come.

    Unless, of course, Congress or the people make the price for this activity very, very high. Will they?

  6. Jenifer D.  June 19, 2007 at 8:22 pm

    I feel bad for the military folks that work in White House communications. They’re probably the ones that were ordered to completely erase/delete all those e-mails! That’s a helluva load to bear on your conscience, knowing you were given an illegal order, and you obeyed it anyway. Who’s going to take the fall for this; the military folks obeying orders, or the REAL perps who GAVE the orders?

  7. LurkingFromTheLeft  June 20, 2007 at 10:40 am

    …where WAS Kkkarl THAT night? –

    …and who was watching Scooter? –

    LFTL

  8. Sandra Price  June 19, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    I hope that the next resident of the White House learns from the Bush Administration how every cover up, every lie and every effort to destroy evidence looks much worse than had they simply told the truth and acted with integrity.

    Bush did not learn from Nixon and if we continue to elect men filled with corruption, our entire nation will be despised over and over. The RNC should be ashamed of itself in abusing their power through these email accounts. The Democrats will do the same thing and it is a matter of ethics not partisanship.

    I hope this is the end of the GOP and the RNC and of course the neoconservatives.

  9. CheckerboardStrangler  June 19, 2007 at 6:21 pm

    Hope is a wonderful thing. Wonderful? Perhaps I should say “wondrous”….maybe NAIVE is better.
    The next “occupier” of the White House will jump, and dance, and high five, and maybe even yell, “Wooo Hoooo…MORE COWBELL!” when they learn the true extent of the abuses conducted at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
    President Bush DID learn from Nixon. He learned that Nixon did not go far enough. He learned that Nixon didn’t display enough bellicosity. He learned that Nixon did not make sufficient use of FEAR.

    If anything, our nation being despised the world over is a key point for both the Republicans and the Democrats alike.

    I’ve said this before and I don’t get why people don’t understand or believe it:

    “The Republicans and the Democrats struggle for control over the agenda, but ABOUT THE AGENDA ITSELF there is NO dispute. The agenda is the eventual destruction of the United States and all Western industrial nations in preparation for a corporate and militarily run world government.”

    The sooner people wake up and realize this the better off we’ll all be…or not.

    But at least we won’t be sleeping.

  10. Stoney13  June 19, 2007 at 9:16 pm

    Finally the truth!!!!!!!

    All the “sheople” bleating for bread and circus, and sneering down their collective noses at the “conspiracy theorists” and “the tin foil hat people” will only get it when they are driven up the ramps to slaughter!

    Stay strong, Checkerboard Strangler! We’re gonna need you in the end! I’ll die as a warrior, before I’ll live as a slave!!!

    Stoney Browning

  11. gene  June 20, 2007 at 10:23 am

    CheckerboardStr you nailed that one to the white house wall. This “eventual destruction of the United States” as you said is SOON to become a reality. How soon? dam soon, months, few years mabe but SOON. I WILL go down fighting if that is what it comes too and I fear it will.

    I retired form the Army in 1996 at the rank of LTC. It would be impossible for me to serve this nation now. I have lost all respect for our (national) way of life as many others have. This nation will reap what it has sown over the last several years and the results will be horrific…..of that I am sure of.

  12. Bill Jonke  June 19, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    I’m beginning to think there’s no stopping these guys, and yes, I hope reality catches up with them.

    It always seems to with the little guy, so why not the lawbreakers at the top?

    I’m about ready to shrug my shoulders and let the higher ups in this Romper Room administration and party have the heart attacks. I for one am tired of their whining and moaning. Let them all jump into the sea, for all I care.

    This stagnation and misery has got to end for the troops and to all of us. Let’s hope the GOP cronies and cronettes wreak their own self-destruction. I for one will enjoy being outside and looking in at it when it happens.

  13. www.nazilieskill.us  June 20, 2007 at 11:24 am

    We need to identify elements in the army that still take their oath to defend the constitution (from enemies domestic) seriously.

    John Hanks, Laramie, Wyoming

  14. SEAL  June 21, 2007 at 4:03 am

    Checkerboard says it perfectly. That’s the plan. Many of us have know it for a long time. The public doesn’t know it because they are too busy refinancing and refinancing trying to keep up the vanishing middle class lifestyle. They have all become credit slaves to the new empire. They’ve sucked right into it.

    The only hope for this country is for everyone to just stop paying. Shut it down. Stop feeding the monster and he will die.

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