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Countless White House E-Mails Deleted

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Stanzel said the president has been briefed, "and he has instructed the counsel's office to do everything practical to retrieve potentially lost e-mails."

For more background, see my Tuesday column on the matter: The Next Bush Scandal?

The Coverage

Michael Abramowitz and Dan Eggen write in The Washington Post: "The White House acknowledged yesterday that e-mails dealing with official government business may have been lost because they were improperly sent through private accounts intended to be used for political activities. Democrats have been seeking such missives as part of an investigation into the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

"Administration officials said they could offer no estimate of how many e-mails were lost but indicated that some may involve messages from White House senior adviser Karl Rove, whose role in the firings has been under scrutiny by congressional Democrats.

"Democrats have charged that Rove and other officials may have used the private accounts, set up through the Republican National Committee, in an effort to avoid normal review. Under federal law, the White House is required to maintain records, including e-mails, involving presidential decision-making and deliberations. White House aides' use of their political e-mail accounts to discuss the prosecutor firings has also fanned Democratic accusations that the actions were politically motivated. . . .

"Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which is investigating the use of outside accounts, issued a statement saying that the White House disclosure is 'a remarkable admission that raises serious legal and security issues,' adding: 'The White House has an obligation to disclose all the information it has.'"

Tom Hamburger writes in the Los Angeles Times: "The White House said Wednesday that it may have lost what could amount to thousands of messages sent through a private e-mail system used by political guru Karl Rove and at least 50 other top officials, an admission that stirred anger and dismay among congressional investigators.

"The e-mails were considered potentially crucial evidence in congressional inquiries launched by Democrats into the role partisan politics may have played in such policy decisions as the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. . . .

"The White House briefing Wednesday occurred a few hours after the staff of Waxman's committee and staff of the House Judiciary Committee met with White House officials to discuss the e-mails.

"The White House has informed congressional investigators that it will not be able to meet the committee's deadline of Friday to turn over the communications.

"The House aides are expected to meet with the Republican National Committee's legal staff today. A committee spokesman said the GOP hopes to cooperate as much as possible but provided no further details."

Ron Hutcheson writes for McClatchy Newspapers: "White House officials said Wednesday that some presidential aides may have improperly used a back-channel e-mail system to conduct government business.


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