No decision on whether Obama will keep BlackBerry

The Associated Press
Friday, January 16, 2009; 7:31 PM

WASHINGTON -- Barack Obama desperately wants to keep his ever-present BlackBerry and become the first sitting president to use e-mail.

Just days before his swearing in as the nation's 44th president, however, no final decision has been made on whether he will continue using his cherished electronic hand-held device.

Previous presidents chose not to use e-mail because it can be subpoenaed by Congress and courts and may be subject to public records laws.

"The president-elect would like to keep his Blackberry to maintain contacts with his friends outside the bubble of the White House, but no decision has been made yet," transition spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Friday.

But senior adviser David Axelrod told ABC News: "He's pretty determined."

It's unclear if Obama's BlackBerry messages would be public under the Presidential Records Act, which requires the National Archives to preserve presidential records, if he were to only use the device for personal communications.

"If the president were using a BlackBerry, the requirement would be that we be able to store those messages and retain them for future use," Sharon Fawcett, director of presidential libraries at the National Archives, said at a news conference in Washington on Friday.

But she said: "If the president is e-mailing his wife about what time he'll be home for dinner or checking on when the girls' play is at Sidwell Friends and whether or not he's going to be going, those are not constitutional and statutory business of the president. Those are personal messages, so we wouldn't have that."

Obama is often seen avidly checking his e-mail on his handheld device. Over the summer, he was seen checking his BlackBerry while watching his daughter's soccer game, only to have Michelle Obama slap at his hands, prompting him to return the device to its holster.

Earlier Friday, Obama's BlackBerry slipped through his fingers _ but it was only a butterfingers moment.

He dropped his constant companion and its hard plastic case onto an airport tarmac in Washington as he emerged from his fortified vehicle.

A Secret Service agent hustled to pick it up.

Told about the fumble, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs quipped: "That may have solved his Blackberry dilemma, right? Forget the lawyers!"

Aides report that his device still works.


Associated Press Writer Nedra Pickler contributed to this report.

© 2009 The Associated Press