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White House contradicts itself in e-mail controversy, group says

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  1. Freedom of Information
A non-profit organization filed a motion in federal court Thursday, stating that the Bush administration made false and contradictory statements…

A non-profit organization filed a motion in federal court Thursday, stating that the Bush administration made false and contradictory statements in court about the White House e-mail controversy.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington asked U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy to demand an explanation from the White House about alleged inconsistencies between testimony given at a congressional hearing Feb. 26 and what the administration told a federal court in January.

The testimony offered at the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last week includes documents asserting proof that the administration knew e-mails were not backed up and could be missing during a one-week time period in 2003. White House official Theresa Payton, however, told a federal court on Jan. 16, that all e-mails from 2003 to 2005, including those during that particular time frame, should be backed up.

These discrepancies in what the White House supposedly knows about its e-mail system are “clearly irreconcilable,” said Anne Weismann, chief counsel for the non-profit group.

“There are blatant inconsistencies between what the White House represented in court and their own documentation,” Weismann said, “and it’s to a degree that they cannot reconcile the two.”

The group is asking the judge to require the administration to explain why it shouldn’t be held in contempt of court for the misleading manner it’s handling the issue. Weismann said time is running out before President Bush’s time in office is over, and hopes to resolve both the e-mail controversy and the White House’s apparent disregard for the situation.

“Ultimately, these are public records that belong to the public and are records of this president,” Weismann said. “It’s imperative that the fullest capability of restoring them is pursued. That’s our concern.”