Friday, April 13, 2007

Karl Rove, email deleter extraordinaire?

Karl Rove has apparently used an RNC email account for 95% of his emails while working in the White House. But conveniently for the now heavily investigated Rove, the RNC has no record of his emails prior to 2005. This is despite the fact that the RNC instituted an effort to preserve his emails in August 2004 - i.e., when U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald instructed the White House to preserve their records in connection with the Plame investigation. So from August of 2004 to the commencement of 2005, someone deleted Rove's emails, contrary to specific instructions for them to be retained. Further, it was only in 2005 that Rove lost his ability to delete his emails from the RNC servers.

The upshot? There are White House employees, including Rove, who appear to have been avoiding official record keeping obligations under the law. And Rove is potentially in line for an obstruction of justice investigation. From the Times report today:
Mr. Waxman, meanwhile, spent Thursday pushing the committee to release the e-mail. According to the congressman’s account of Thursday’s meeting with Mr. Kelner, the R.N.C. lawyer, as well as an interview with a Republican official familiar with the committee’s e-mail practices, the committee has a large cache of communications from White House officials. But there are none before 2005, when the committee “began to treat Mr. Rove’s e-mails in a special fashion,” Mr. Waxman wrote.

The committee appears to have changed its e-mail retention policies twice, possibly in response to the investigation by a special prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, into the leak of the name of a C.I.A. officer. When that inquiry began, in early 2004, the committee’s practice was to purge all e-mail from its servers after 30 days.

But in August of that year, according to the Republican official, the committee decided that e-mail sent by White House officials would be kept on the server. Still, the change did not prevent White House officials from manually deleting their e-mail, and some, including Mr. Rove, apparently did. So in 2005, the committee took steps to prevent Mr. Rove from doing so.

“Mr. Kelner did not provide many details about why this special policy was adopted for Mr. Rove,” Mr. Waxman wrote. “But he did indicate that one factor was the presence of investigative or discovery requests or other legal concerns.”
And this means more trouble for Alberto Gonzales. He's the one responsible for ensuring that presidential records are maintained pursuant to White House policy, having been White House counsel for most of Bush's first term. This is more evidence, it certainly appears, that Rove ran roughshod over Gonzales and also over these pesky little record keeping rules.

All of which leads one to there ever going to be a point reached at which Rove becomes too much of a liability for Republicans?