House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Henry Waxman has just told the Republican National Committee and the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign to maintain any and all e-mail messages that White House officials may have sent or received using their e-mail systems.
The requests, made in two letters Waxman sent today, stem from revelations that various White House officials -- especially Karl Rove and the people who work for him -- have been using private e-mail accounts from the RNC and/or the Bush-Cheney campaign to conduct what passes for official business in the Bush administration. "Such emails written in the conduct of White House business would appear to be governmental records subject to preservation and eventual public disclosure," Waxman writes.
Waxman says that Rove's office repeatedly used non-governmental e-mail accounts to communicate with disgraced GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff. At one point, Waxman charges, an Abramoff associate told Abramoff that a staffer in the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs had warned against putting "stuff in writing in their e-mail system because it might actually limit what they can do to help us, especially since there could be lawsuits, etc." Abramoff's response: "Dammit. It was sent to [Karl Rove assistant] Susan [Ralston] on her mc pager and was not supposed to go into the WH system."
Later, Waxman says, Rove deputy J. Scott Jennings used a Bush-Cheney e-mail account to communicate with Justice Department officials about the efforts to replace Arkansas U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins with Friend of Rove Tim Griffin. Waxman cites a recent National Journal article that said Rove uses an RNC e-mail account for "about 95 percent" of the messages he sends.