CREW Asks AG Mukasey to Appoint Special Counsel to Investigate Disappearance of White House Emails
Washington, D.C. - Today, in light of the emerging details of the disappearance of millions of White House emails, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sent a letter to Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey asking that he appoint a special counsel to investigate the matter. Specifically, CREW asked for an investigation into whether the White House violated federal record-keeping laws by knowingly failing to preserve and restore millions of emails and by deliberately failing to use an effective and appropriate record-keeping system for the preservation of federal and presidential electronic records. The White House is subject to two sets of federal laws governing how it must maintain and preserve its records, the Federal Records Act (FRA) and the Presidential Records Act (PRA).
On January 15th, in a court filing submitted in response to CREW v. Executive Office of the President, the White House admitted destroying back-up copies of some of its emails. Over 10 million emails are missing from between March 2003 and October 2005 and the White House stated that up until October of 2003, back-up tapes containing the only copies of some of the missing emails were recycled.
This means that there likely are no back-up copies of emails deleted during the period of March 2003 through October 2003, the time during which top White House officials leaked the covert identity of Valerie Plame Wilson and the Justice Department began a criminal investigation into the leak. The White House has offered no explanation as to why the emails were deleted, how many were actually lost and why it never acted to recover any of the missing emails, despite having been presented with a recovery plan by its own Office of Administration.
After filing this court document, the White House deputy press secretary denied that there were, in fact, any missing emails. As a result, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), released a letter stating that the White House had informed committee staff that there were 473 days for which no emails were stored for one or more of the White House offices.
Given that White House officials may have deliberately deleted emails to cover up involvement in a potential crime, the need for a criminal investigation is clear, but it is equally apparent that the Department of Justice does not have the requisite independence to conduct such a probe. As a result, CREW is requesting that the Attorney General appoint a special counsel.
Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW said today, “the importance and historical significance of the missing emails makes it imperative that an impartial special counsel be appointed without delay to investigate the disappearance of these records.” Sloan continued, “the missing emails do not belong to the Bush administration, but to the American people. The Attorney General should take action to protect the right of future generations to look back and understand the role of White House officials in critical events.”
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org or contact David Merchant at 202.408.5565 or firstname.lastname@example.org