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2016 Postmortem

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(10,559 posts)
Fri May 27, 2016, 03:15 PM May 2016

History: Bush White House email controversy (& DU reaction) [View all]

Bush White House email controversy

The Bush White House email controversy surfaced in 2007 during the controversy involving the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys. Congressional requests for administration documents while investigating the dismissals of the U.S. attorneys required the Bush administration to reveal that not all internal White House emails were available, because they were sent via a non-government domain hosted on an email server not controlled by the federal government. Conducting governmental business in this manner is a possible violation of the Presidential Records Act of 1978, and the Hatch Act. Over 5 million emails may have been lost. Greg Palast claims to have come up with 500 of the Karl Rove emails, leading to damaging allegations. In 2009, it was announced that as many as 22 million emails may have been lost.

The administration officials had been using a private Internet domain, called gwb43.com, owned by and hosted on an email server run by the Republican National Committee, for various communications of unknown content or purpose. The domain name is an abbreviation for "George W. Bush, 43rd" President of the United States. The server came public when it was discovered that J. Scott Jennings, the White House's deputy director of political affairs, was using a gwb43.com email address to discuss the firing of the U.S. attorney for Arkansas. Communications by federal employees were also found on georgewbush.com (registered to "Bush-Cheney '04, Inc.&quot and rnchq.org (registered to "Republican National Committee&quot , but, unlike these two servers, gwb43.com has no Web server connected to it — it is used only for email.

The "gwb43.com" domain name was publicized by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), who sent a letter to Oversight and Government Reform Committee committee chairman Henry A. Waxman requesting an investigation. Waxman sent a formal warning to the RNC, advising them to retain copies of all emails sent by White House employees. According to Waxman, "in some instances, White House officials were using nongovernmental accounts specifically to avoid creating a record of the communications." The Republican National Committee claims to have erased the emails, supposedly making them unavailable for Congressional investigators.

On April 12, 2007, White House spokesman Scott Stanzel stated that White House staffers were told to use RNC accounts to "err on the side of avoiding violations of the Hatch Act, but they should also retain that information so it can be reviewed for the Presidential Records Act," and that "some employees ... have communicated about official business on those political email accounts." Stanzel also said that even though RNC policy since 2004 has been to retain all emails of White House staff with RNC accounts, the staffers had the ability to delete the email themselves.


According to a former White House official, Karl Rove used RNC-hosted addresses for roughly "95 percent" of his email.

Any "Team Players" who want to pretend that what the Republicans did was okay? Or that "private servers for government employees to use" should be the new normal?

Not a newsflash - deleting unflattering government records is a crime. Yes, Karl Rove and his cronies got away with it, which is probably why Hillary Clinton tried to pull a similar stunt, but that is the OPPOSITE OF THE BEHAVIOR that belongs in the White House.

Here are some links to how DU *used* to think about this type of nonsense:

The Too Ten Conservative Idiots List

Last week the U.S. Attorneys scandal mutated into OhDearGodThey'reTotallyFuckedergate, as Democratic lawmakers demanded emails from the White House only to learn that they've been "lost." That's lost as in "the dog ate my homework."

To quickly recap: the 1978 Presidential Records Act states that official White House records must be preserved. Many members of the Bush administration, however, have been using Republican National Committee email accounts, which, according to the White House, was an "appropriate method of separating official business from political campaign work." Just one problem - the U.S. Attorneys scandal has revealed that this official business was not separated from campaign work at all.

And now it seems that an awful lot of those RNC emails have mysteriously disappeared.


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