House Oversight and Government Reform Committee yesterday released a report documenting how White House officials have regularly used RNC and Bush-Cheney ’04 e-mail accounts for official government business, in apparent violation of the Hatch Act. The report also found that the RNC has overseen “extensive destruction” of these e-mails, which would likely violate the Presidential Records Act.
During yesterday’s press briefing, White House spokesman Tony Snow brushed aside this direct evidence of potential illegality. His response: Clinton did it too. “Those email accounts were set up on a model based on the prior administration, which had done it the same way, in order to try to avoid Hatch Act violations.” Watch it:
Snow’s statement is false. In 1993, President Clinton’s then-Assistant to the President John Podesta issued a staff memo clearly stating that all administration e-mails dealing with official business had to be “incorporated into an official recordkeeping system,” stressing that no “e-mail document that is a Presidential record should be deleted.”
The Clinton administration’s policy also made clear that personal and political e-mail accounts — which are generally exempt from the Presidential Records Act — could not be used for official business. Indeed, the Bush administration has seemingly implemented a policy opposite of the Clinton administration’s.
Read the full memo HERE.
Q Waxman’s committee has put out an interim report on the issue of the RNC emails showing, they say, that there was more use of those emails than the White House suggested, indicating possibly widespread violation of the Presidential Records Act. It’s, like, 140,000 emails of Rove’s, so the White House Counsel’s Office is aware that official business was being conducted through this party (inaudible) system? Can you respond to all that and what –
MR. SNOW: Look, I can’t respond specifically to things that the committee may have put out. But those email accounts were set up, A, on a model based on the prior administration, which had done it the same way, in order to try to avoid Hatch Act violations. And we’ll just — we’ll leave it at that. I mean, these were designed precisely to avoid Hatch Act violations that prohibit the use of government assets for certain political activities.