Henry Writes a Letter to the Attorney General About Karl Rove’s Email

Brian Zick

Jesse Lee at The Gavel reports: Following briefings from the White House and Republican National Committee that revealed an extensive volume of e-mails regarding official government business may have been destroyed by the RNC, Chairman Waxman directs government agencies to preserve e-mails received from or sent to non-governmental e-mail accounts used by White House staffers. The Committee also requests that government agencies provide an inventory of all e-mails involving these accounts.The briefing received by the Committee raises serious concerns about the White House compliance with the Presidential Records Act, which requires that the President “take all such steps as may be necessary to assure that the activities, deliberations, decisions, and policies that reflect the performance of his constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties are adequately documented and that such records are maintained as Presidential records.” From Congressman Waxman's letter to Attorney General Gonzales: According to the counsel for the RNC, Rob Kelner, “roughly 50” White House officials have had e-mail accounts on RNC servers during the Bush Administration. These e-mail accounts were controlled by the RNC. Mr. Kelner stated that to his knowledge, the earliest e-mail records of White House officials on RNC servers are from 2004. Although White House officials had used RNC e-mail accounts since 2001, the RNC has apparently destroyed all e-mail records from White House officials from 2001, 2002, and 2003. (…) According to Mr. Kelner, the RNC had a policy, which the RNC called a “document retention” policy, that purged all e-mails from RNC e-mail accounts and the RNC server that were more than 30 days old. Mr. Kelner said that as a result of unspecified legal inquiries, a “hold” was placed on this e-mail destruction policy for the accounts of White House officials in August 2004. Mr. Kelner was uncertain whether the hold was consistently maintained from August 2004 to the present, but he asserted that for this period, the RNC does have a large volume of White House e-mails. According to Mr. Kelner, the hold would not have prevented individual White House officials from deleting their e-mail from the RNC server after August 2004.Mr. Kelner’s briefing raised particular concerns about Karl Rove, who according to press reports used his RNC account for 95% of his communications. According to Mr. Kelner, although the hold started in August 2004, the RNC does not have any e-mails prior to 2005 for Mr. Rove. Mr. Kelner did not give any explanation for the e-mails missing from Mr. Rove’s account, but he did acknowledge that one possible explanation is that Mr. Rove personally deleted his e-mails from the RNC server.Mr. Kelner also explained that starting in 2005, the RNC began to treat Mr. Rove’s e-mails in a special fashion. At some point in 2005, the RNC commenced an automatic archive policy for Mr. Rove, but not for any other White House officials. According to Mr. Kelner, this archive policy removed Mr. Rove’s ability to personally delete his e-mails from the RNC server. Mr. Kelner did not provide many details about why this special policy was adopted for Mr. Rove. But he did indicate that one factor was the presence of investigative or discovery requests or other legal concerns. It was unclear from Mr. Kelner’s briefing whether the special archiving policy for Mr. Rove was consistently in effect after 2005.

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