The RNC e-mail memory hole
1. The White House originally said only a "handful of officials" had RNC accounts. The actual number was 88.
2. The accounts were used heavily, including for official government business -- in violation of the administration's own directives for complying with the Presidential Records Act.
3. A huge share of the e-mails have been destroyed. There are no surviving records for 51 of the 88 users, and for many of the rest there are no preserved messages from before Fall 2006.
4. Then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales knew about the use of the RNC accounts but took no steps to ensure the e-mails were preserved in accordance with the Presidential Records Act.
The committee next plans to retrieve e-mail records from federal agencies to see if they contain any of the missing e-mails; grill Gonzales about what he knew and what he did about it; and pursue a parallel investigation into the use of Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign e-mail accounts by White House officials.
Whether through incompetence or design, the White House appears to have massively violated the records act, destroying a treasure trove of internal communications that should have been preserved and made available to historians. Whether it's something more sinister than that remains to be seen, and may never be known one way or the other. But the committee's plan of action seems reasonable: recover the records if possible and see if other records have been lost through the similar arrangement with the Bush campaign. And grill Alberto Gonzales about yet another massive failure on his watch.
The only caveat is the same one I made a couple of months ago: This should not be allowed to devolve into a fishing expedition. Determining the extent, scope and reasons behind the problem (as well as repairing the damage as much as possible) is reasonable; going on a random tromp through Republican strategic communications is not.
RNC, Gonzales, politics, midtopia