In April, the White House claimed that “it had mishandled Republican Party-sponsored e-mail accounts used by nearly two dozen presidential aides, resulting in the loss of an undetermined number of e-mails concerning official White House business.” They also acknowledged that some of the “missing” emails may be related to the U.S. attorney scandal.
In an impassioned speech, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said at the time that the White House was lying and the emails could be recovered:
“They say they have not been preserved. I don’t believe that!” Leahy shouted from the Senate floor. “You can’t erase e-mails, not today. They’ve gone through too many servers. Those e-mails are there, they just don’t want to produce them. We’ll subpoena them if necessary.”
“Like the famous 18-minute gap in the Nixon White House tapes, it appears likely that key documentation has been erased or misplaced. This sounds like the Administration’s version of ‘the dog ate my homework.'”
Today, during a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, Leahy revealed that the White House does indeed have the emails, but has yet to turn them over to Congress:
The White House stonewalling the congressional investigative committees continues this pattern of confrontation over cooperation. We all remember when they first announced to us that significant e- mails that we wanted had been destroyed. They’d been lost. I stated on the floor of the Senate that it’s relatively easy to find those lost e-mails. This brought another blast from the White House, saying that I obviously had no understanding of how the Internet works and of course that couldn’t be done.
To their credit, the White House has now told me they — well, yes indeed, I was right; they were wrong. The e-mails are found. They were there in a backup system, although they have yet to give them.
Now that their claim of “lost” emails has been proven false, the White House must turn them over to Congress. Claims of executive privilege are not sufficient to deny these emails to congressional investigators as the use of “Republican Party-sponsored” email addresses significantly undermines any claims to such privilege.
Update: Here’s video of Leahy on the Senate floor yesterday, saying how the White House’s disappearing, reappearing emails underscore the need for subpoenas: