White House, Senators to Confer on E-Mail Expert
The White House said yesterday that it has accepted the Senate Judiciary Committee’s proposal on how to choose an outside consultant to help recover lost e-mails involving official presidential business.
White House counsel Fred F. Fielding called Sens. Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.) and Arlen Specter (Pa.) — the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, respectively — to say that their suggestion to allow committee input on the choice of a consultant was a good idea, spokeswoman Dana Perino said.
White House and committee staffers plan to meet early this week to move forward, she said.
The White House acknowledged last week that aides to President Bush improperly used e-mail accounts created by the Republican Party to conduct official White House business, and that an undetermined number of those e-mails have been lost.
Perino said Friday that she could not rule out the possibility that up to 5 million e-mails were missing.
Democrats have pledged to investigate wheth- er the e-mails were deliberately funneled through the Republican National Committee’s system, instead of the White House’s, and then deleted in order to shield sensitive matters. They say this could violate a law that requires the preservation, and eventual disclosure, of presidential records.
The e-mails were discovered to be missing during a congressional investigation into the firing of eight federal prosecutors.
White House officials said the improper use of the accounts and the loss of the e-mails appeared to be honest mistakes. They are trying to recover the missing e-mails and are clarifying policy on preserving records.
Separate accounts were created for about 50 White House aides in the Bush administration who get involved in party politics. The intent is to avoid violations of rules that bar federal employees from using government resources for political activities.
Sens. Patrick J. Leahy, left, and Arlen Specter proposed that the Senate Judiciary Committee have a voice in selecting a consultant.