February 19th, 2009
04:54 PM ET
5 years ago

Republican wants White House e-mail plan

A California Republican in the House has asked the White House to detail its practices for preserving official emails.
A California Republican in the House has asked the White House to detail its practices for preserving official emails.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – A California Republican congressman has called on President Obama to put in place a system that ensures all White House emails be preserved even if official business was done through private e- mail accounts.

Rep. Darrell Issa, the senior Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, made the request in a February 18 letter to White House Counsel Greg Craig.

Issa specifically mentioned the new administration’s brief use of Gmail accounts after Obama was sworn in last month, as they waited for the official White House e-mail accounts to become active.

Click here to read Issa's letter

“As you know, any e-mail sent or received by White House officials may be subject to retention under the Presidential Records Act (PRA),” Issa wrote Craig in the letter.

“The use of personal e-mail accounts, such as Gmail to conduct official business raises the prospect that presidential records will not be captured by the White House e-mail archiving system. Consequently Gmail users on the President’s staff run the risk of incorrectly classifying their e-mails as non-records under the [Presidential Records] Act.”

A White House spokesman told CNN Thursday that all staff were told to forward any official correspondence to their White House e-mail accounts, and added that private e-mail accounts are no longer being used.


“In order to ensure that they were accessible in the first hours and days of the administration, some staff members created email accounts from which to conduct official business before their government accounts were operational,” a spokesman for the White House said in an email to CNN.

“Those staff members were instructed to forward any presidential records that they established during that time period, including emails, to their government email accounts to ensure that they would be in compliance with the Presidential Records Act. Those temporary accounts are no longer being used.”

Issa also asked that the White House respond to a series of questions about the administration’s email archiving by March 4.

E-mail use by the new administration’s staff has been twice disrupted by problems with White House servers in the past month.

Related: White House press office hit by e-mail outage

President Obama also uses e-mail to communicate with a small circle of his senior staff and close friends. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has said that the President’s e-mails are subject to preservation under the Presidential Records Act, but the law has an exception for personal communications.


Filed under: Popular Posts • White House
soundoff (208 Responses)
  1. NY republican

    I really don't think it's wise to save private e-mails for the public record. Will we really need one of the "first kids" smiley faces to their dad in the public record? :)

    February 19, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  2. Guitarjelly

    LOL, where was this clown for the last 8 years? Everyone of King Bush's staff used alternative e-mail or "forgot" or "accidentally deleted" a slew of e-mail. E-mail records should be kept, I just think its hilarious/ironic/hypocritical that it is a republican congressman doing it now...go partisan witch hunting!

    February 19, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  3. ReMiWa

    Interesting...where the hell was Issa when Cheney's emails where systematically "lost"?

    February 19, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  4. azzy23

    LOL!!! This is awesome. They should call this the "Don't do what we did to cover our unethical behavior" bill!!

    February 19, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  5. Cleaning up after W

    Oh, NOW the republicans are concerned with saving all e-mail. Where was their insistence when Dubya and Cheney were shredding the Constitution?

    I'm sure President Obama's administration will comply. He actually cares about the rule of law.

    February 19, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  6. Rosa Birmingham, AL

    Are you kidding me, after the Bush administration hiding emails and destroying emails for 8 years the Republicans get religion on saving email. This is just like their newly found religion on fiscal responsibility. Is there no limit to their hypocrisy?

    February 19, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  7. just bob

    This is a good idea. Now lets see all the secret records kept by Bush and Cheney on a multitude of issues.

    February 19, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  8. Joe Blow

    Hmmm...I wonder where this guy was over the last eight years?

    February 19, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  9. Had It

    Leave it to a Republican (after Bush/Cheney) to make these demands.

    I believe the Democrats are not nearly as deceitful or as conniving as the previous Administration.

    Demand, Demand, Demand. Obstruct, Obstruct, Obstruct (the Republican Mantra in 6 short words).

    February 19, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  10. Dan

    Isn't it unny how Mr. Issa, or any other Republican Congressman, didn't think of this during the last 8 years???

    February 19, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  11. Ernie

    Hey, Issa – how'd you make your millions again? Care to share you wealth secrets before getting elected to office?

    Transparency, sure.

    February 19, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  12. Sammy

    Is the requirement to preserve all such emails retroactive? If not, would this guy still support the bill if the democrats added it in? In actual fact I doubt such a provision would actually change anything because of already existing court decisions about Bush//Cheney emails. But as a simple symbol against Bush it might say something.

    February 19, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  13. The Oddball

    Rep. Darrell Issa has been in Congress since 2000. Did he write a similar letter to President Bush? Or did he spend the last eight years picking his nose like the rest of his party while the Bush Administration used personal email accounts to circumvent the Presidential Records Act, stonewalling anyone who complained about it.

    February 19, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  14. Robert Flynn, Nashville, TN

    How funny.... when King George Bush was in office, he was asked to do the same thing.... and he flatly refused. Now the Republicans are whining and asking President Obama to preserve his emails... hmm... why should President Obama and the White House staff have to preserve emails, when George Bush and the Republican goonies didn't?? Well thats why you lost the White House, Republicans. You can't be trusted. You brag about your opposition to fixing our broken economy, and now you are demanding something that your former leader flatly refused to do..... go get a life and try to do something right for a change.

    February 19, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  15. Ryan Wing

    I wish the Republicans had been all for this when they were in charge. The number of emails that mysteriously disappeared under Bush is astonishing.

    February 19, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  16. mwt

    The irony of this statement coming from Republicans is mind-numbing, given the fact that the Bush Administration still can't find their missing emails.

    February 19, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  17. pa

    where was this senator wiht bush was in office. didnt hear him questioning the bush people about their emails. all i hear form the repib. is no no no and questions and more questions. no ideas no solutions no anything!

    February 19, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  18. D-MI

    I would point out the obvious here, but it would be wasted on the Republitards...

    February 19, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  19. Vicki5

    Ditto on the comment, why didn't they request this when Bush was in office. Will someone please tell the R's how transparent they are and put me out of my misery already.

    February 19, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  20. Chris

    I agree with "KHIF"
    It's so funny now a Republican wants to have transparency in the White House NOW!!!

    February 19, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  21. Jackie in Dallas

    I wonder, did Issa (Republican) ask for the same level of accounting from the Bush Administration? Where are all the records of phone calls, emails, written memos about the use of torture, the WMDs, the fiasco of the Katrina response, ad nauseum? Does Executive Privilege still hold for Rove, or can he now be forced to testify? Considering the Republican track record such as the missing minutes on Nixon's tapes and the missing information from George W's Administration, perhaps he ought to have made this request a little more diplomatically.

    I have no doubt that the Obama Administration will do much better at keeping records, and making them available under the correct procedures that any of the last Republican Administrations did!

    February 19, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  22. Island girl

    This man is so smart he has the Repubs and their lost sheep tripping over themselves.

    February 19, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  23. brian

    Too bad Issa did not have the same concern when the Bushies 'lost' their emails.

    February 19, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  24. Sebastian

    I love how the GOP has suddenly found religion on emails in the White House. Wasn't it Bush and the RNC who both simultaneously had thousands and thousands of emails "disappear?" Hypocrites.

    February 19, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  25. carolflowery

    drama, drama, drama

    February 19, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
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