Washington (CNSNews.com) - Three key White House figures in the missing e-mail controversy performed a 'see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil' skit before the House Government Reform Committee on Thursday. Each claimed repeatedly that they "did not recall," or "had no recollection," or "did not know of" numerous conversations they allegedly had with each other about the hundreds of thousands of missing electronic messages subpoenaed by Congress during the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
Former Chief Counsel Charles Ruff and former Associate Counsel Cheryl Mills of the White House Counsel's Office and current White House Administration Office Assistant to the President for Management and Administration Mark Lindsay said that, in June 1998, they all were aware that as many as 246,000 subpoenaed White House e-mail messages had not been archived because of a computer glitch.
However, in their testimonies Thursday, the three seemed unclear about which office, legal or administrative, was spearheading the missing e-mail retrieval.
"It was my understanding that the Office of Administration was going to be forwarding over e-mails that may have been missed," Mills told committee chairman Representative Dan Burton, (R-IN).
But Burton told Mills that the White House Office of Administration told his committee that the White House Counsel's Office was conducting a search.
"If that is the case, I have not been part of that development," said Mills.
Ruff also claimed to have been in the dark about what was going on between the two White House offices.
"I do not know who conversed with the Office of Administration on the subject, Mr Chairman," Ruff told Burton.
Lindsay told an incredulous Burton that his office was not developing any searches for the lost e-mail.
"That's kind of mystifying," said Burton.
Ruff said that he "did not know" who was in charge of the search or who he asked to conduct the search. When Burton asked the trio if anyone knew who developed the e-mail search, his question was met with silence.
Ruff told an astonished Burton that he did not recall whom he asked to conduct the search, or how the search was being conducted.
"Mr Ruff, you're one of the brightest lawyers in this town. You know the gravity of the situation. You knew that there was a problem. You had to instruct somebody to conduct the search to make sure there was compliance with the subpoenas. You don't remember who you asked to do the search?" Burton asked. "Where does the buck stop?" he added.