Nolan Denies White House Cover-Up of E-mails
July 7, 2008 - 8:25 PM
Washington (CNSNews.com) - White House Counsel Beth Nolan refuted before the House Committee on Government Reform Thursday allegations that a "zip drive" belonging to one of the Northrop Grumman employees contained any new, undisclosed e-mails that could possibly be under subpoena by federal investigators and at least three congressional committees.
Nolan said recent media reports that the computer zip drive belonging to Robert Haas, a Northrop Grumman subcontractor assigned to oversee the White House e-mail system, does contain new e-mails is wrong but instead is only a copy of a search conducted on one of his computer drive systems.
In response to questioning by committee members Nolan said, "The zip drive in question simply contained a copy of the search file that Haas had previously placed on the F drive of his computer."
To say it contains "previously undisclosed e-mails is wrong," Nolan told ranking minority committee member Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA).
Nolan was also questioned about a possibly false affidavit filed by a White House computer specialist with help from its in-house lawyers.
Committee Chairman Dan Burton (R-IN) on Wednesday sent a criminal referral to the Department of Justice accusing White House lawyers of being deceptive and helping a White House computer specialist file a false affidavit.
In his letter to DOJ Burton said that the computer specialist, Daniel Barry may have committed perjury in his affidavit for a lawsuit when swore that "e-mail within the EOP (Executive Office of the President) system ... has been archived in the ... Automated Records Management System."
Nolan told Burton that the court affidavit was essentially true in its description of how the White House archives e-mail even though Barry did not disclose that over 100,000 messages were missing and not archived as required by law. Nolan argued that some e-mail was archived "but some e-mail was not captured."
Burton disagreed with Nolan and said the affidavit was deceptive because it did not refer to any problems with the e-mail system.
Nolan said Barry's affidavit was given in connection with events that happened early in the Clinton administration and had nothing to do with the e-mail problem.
Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA) suggested Nolan was coming up with a legal theory to explain away a false affidavit.
Nolan denied she was trying to cover for Barry's affidavit and told Barr she was trying to place it in "context."
Nolan, along with DOJ lawyer Robert Raben told committee members they did not know who had helped Barry prepare his affidavit.
At this point Burton told Raben and Nolan, "It is inconceivable you come up here and not have any of the answers." Raben then promised Burton he would find out who was responsible for the affidavit.
Burton said he is "concerned" that the attorneys who counseled and helped Barry prepare his affidavit were aware that the information was misleading.
He added that lawyers in the White House counsel's office are possibly "involved in this deception."
White House maintains it did not learn of the computer glitch until 1998 and the missing e-mails did not become public knowledge until February when a lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch over the White House's gathering of gathering of FBI background files of Republican appointees from past administrations.
Nolan told the committee it may take 170 days to reconstruct e-mail back-up tapes and conduct a thorough search, and that there are 625 back-up tapes for Vice President Al Gore's office alone, which may contain information on the DOJ's investigation of illegal campaign fundraising.
Until Thursday the White House and Gore's office said it could take as long as two years to reconstruct the e-mails. Gore has denied any knowledge of problems with his e-mail system and said his e-mails will not contain any information regarding alleged campaign fundraising abuses by him or other members of his staff.