CREW: White House Violated Presidential Records Act

CREW: White House Violated Presidential Records Act
March 15, 2007

Washington, DC – In light of e-mails released by the House Judiciary Committee this week in response to the on-going U.S. Attorney firing scandal, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sent a letter today to Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), asking for an investigation into whether the White House has violated its mandatory record-keeping obligation under the Presidential Records Act (PRA).

One email, sent to Justice Department Chief of Staff D. Kyle Sampson from J. Scott Jennings, White House Deputy Political Director, uses an email account,, on a server owned by the Republican National Committee. This raises serious questions about whether the White House was trying to deliberately evade its responsibilities under the PRA, which directs the president to take all necessary steps to maintain presidential records to provide a full accounting of all activities during his tenure.

Continued here.

At the Washington Post, Dan Froomkin noted that:

Similarly, in spite of the embarrassing revelations contained in the e-mails turned over by the Justice Department to the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, the general rule at the White House is that if it’s really sensitive, don’t put it in writing — certainly not in an e-mail.

That stuff gets archived.

The president himself, for instance, never uses e-mail at all.

And it now turns out that some of his aides sometimes avoid using their official White House e-mail accounts — the ones that get automatically archived.

As I wrote in yesterday’s column, Tuesday’s document dump — which initiated from the Justice Department, not the White House — includes e-mails from J. Scott Jennings, Karl Rove’s deputy at the White House, coming from an e-mail address at That’s a domain owned by the Republican National Committee.

Continued here.

2 Responses to CREW: White House Violated Presidential Records Act

  1. Maarja Krusten says:

    I thought I also would pass along this news story from 2004

    It describes how some White House insiders reportedly reacted in 2004 to an earlier U.S. News and World Report account of the transfer of Clinton-era emails to his Presidential Library by going off of the official e-mail system to web based ones. Look for the item toward the bottom of the page entitled, “It’s Yahoo, Baby.” I have no idea if White House counsel (it then still would have been Alberto Gonzalez, he was not yet AG) saw the article back in 2004 and whether he or anyone on his staff within the wh issued a reminder to WH officials about their obligations under the Presidential Records Act (and, depending on the component) the Federal Records Act.

    Of course, you probably remember in the extracts from Bob Woodward’s State of Denial that Andy Card used a drugstore notebook in an apparent effort to keep information out of the official recordkeeping system. The account in the Washington Post on October 2, 2006 (“Should He Stay”) said about Card, “He had intentionally used a student notebook, something he had bought himself, so it wouldn’t be considered a government document or presidential record that might someday be openedto history. It was private and personal.” One of my friends, Rick Barry, had a letter to the editor published about that in the Washington Post on October 5, 2006. Rick’s published letter ended with the sentence, “Even the best spin doctor would have difficulty explaining how notes prepared to help advise the president on potential Cabinet candidates could be construed as ‘personal.'”

  2. Editor says:

    thank-you Ms. Krusten. Very interesting.

%d bloggers like this: