More Hearings on White House E-Mail Glitch

July 7, 2008 - 8:26 PM

(CNSNews.com) - Former White House Counsel Charles Ruff and former Associate White House Counsel Cheryl Mills are among those expected to testify about White House e-mail mismanagement on Capitol Hill this week.

The House Government Reform Committee says it will resume its hearings on Wednesday and Thursday.

From August 1996 to November 1998, a technical glitch in the White House computer system prevented hundreds of thousands of incoming e-mails from being properly preserved and searched in compliance with various congressional and grand jury subpoenas.

Documents already released by the House committee show that Ruff had been briefed about the e-mail problem as early as June 19, 1998, yet he failed to inform Congress or other investigative bodies about the e-mail snafu.

In other developments, the White House has sent the House Government Reform Committee a list of documents it will not turn over, despite pending subpoenas. The White House says the documents in question are covered by executive privilege and attorney-client confidentiality.

Those documents reportedly include the handwritten notes of White House lawyers, who discussed the e-mail glitch with computer experts.

"The White House is obstructing the investigation," replied the angry Committee Chairman Rep. Dan Burton (R-Indiana).

In a letter to the White House counsel's office, Burton wrote, "This meaningless legal mumbo-jumbo is obviously a transparent ploy to provoke wasteful and time-consuming squabbles over documents."

But White House spokesman Jim Kennedy said Burton is seeking information that's only tangential to his investigation: "What he is seeking is not historical information about the origins of this problem but current information generated only as a result of his inquiry."

White House officials blame a "disconnect" between their technicians, who diagnosed the e-mail problem, and their lawyers, who apparently did not understand that the glitch might affect pending subpoena requests.