Burton Calls for Special Counsel on Missing White House E-mail

July 7, 2008 - 8:25 PM

(CNSNews.com) - The chairman of the House Government Reform Committee is calling on Attorney General Janet Reno to appoint a "special counsel" to investigate obstruction of justice charges against the White House regarding the missing White House e-mails.

Chairman Dan Burton (R-IN) in his letter to the Attorney General noted that Reno is "incapable of conducting a legitimate investigation of the White House."

Burton also cited what he believes to be common perceptions that Reno is incapable of doing her job and is "predisposed to provide unfair advantages" to her political colleagues in matters involving the campaign finance scandal.

"(Y)ou cannot use the Campaign Financing Task Force, supervised by yourself, to investigate yourself and the Justice Department lawyers who helped keep the e-mails from being produced to Congress, Independent Counsels, and your own Campaign Financing Task Force," Burton's letter to Reno read.

"It is important that the Department of Justice remove itself entirely from this investigation and appoint an outside counsel. The individual chosen should be completely independent, should have no current ties to the Justice Department, and should be seen by the American people as fair and impartial."

The latest development in the missing e-mail controversy came after a full day of testimony in the matter last Thursday from White House personnel and contractors who operated the White House e-mail system. White House Counsel Beth Nolan is scheduled to testify before the Committee this Thursday.

More than 100,000 White House e-mail messages concerning Clinton-Gore campaign finance abuses, the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Filegate and Chinagate were never turned over, despite subpoenas from at least three congressional committees and a federal grand jury.

A computer glitch supposedly prevented the e-mails from showing up during a White House computer search, but later, when the Northrop Grumman contractors discovered the problem, they were allegedly told by White House higher-ups they would go to jail if they told anyone else about it.

Allegations of jail threats surfaced around the same time as the Office of Independent Counsel announced its conclusions that no prosecutions are warranted in the FBI files matter (commonly known as Filegate), nor in the matter concerning whether former White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum testified falsely before the House Government Reform Committee.

The e-mails in question involved some 500 White House computers and when those sent by Monica Lewinsky alone were printed they amounted to nearly 1,500 pages, a source close to the investigation told CNSNews.com.

The missing e-mails, once discovered by the Northrop Grumman contractors, were reportedly referred to by senior administration officials as "Project X" and were re-labeled as classified documents.

Bob Koch, Northrop Grumman director of corporate communications, reiterated the company's official statement on the controversy, referring all other questions to the White House.

Koch told CNSNews.com, "The company is under contract to provide technical support to the White House. In the course of these activities, Northrop Grumman employees at the White House discovered a technical flaw in the automated records management system. They immediately reported this to the White House. Northrop Grumman continues to fulfill our contractual requirements to the White House."