House committee targets RNC e-mail records

The House Judiciary Committee late Thursday sent a detailed request to the Republican National Committee asking for all e-mails that can be found on its servers generated by federal employees relating to the firing of several U.S. attorneys. The letter was scheduled to be posted to the committee's Web site sometime Friday afternoon.

The request to RNC followed by just a day the committee's subpoena to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for similar electronic information.

Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Judiciary subcommittee on commercial and administrative law, asked that the information be provided by the close of business April 20.

In the request, Conyers and Sanchez advised RNC not to delay meeting the committee's request in order to meet a similar request from the White House.

'We would consider that to be an unjustified delay in responding to our request and potentially as an obstruction of our investigation, and we urge you not to follow that course,' they wrote.

The request, the earlier subpoena and requests from the Senate Judiciary and the House Oversight and Government Reform committees, also made earlier this week, all stem from the White House's acknowledgement that an unknown number of e-mails have been lost by the White House e-mail archives, though the e-mail system is supposed to automatically archive everything, in accordance with the Presidential Records Act.

The push to get the records was bolstered by the confirmation that about 50 current and former White House employees used nongovernmental e-mail accounts hosted by RNC. Some e-mails released by the Justice Department in the course of the widening investigation have revealed the existence of these accounts, using domains such as 'rnchq.org,' 'georgewbush.com' and 'gwb43.com.'

A Judiciary Committee spokesman said Conyers and Sanchez 'will not sit idly by while the truth about the U.S. attorney matter disappears into cyberspace.'

None of the committees has yet asked to do a forensic examination on the hardware ' servers, PCs, PDAs, cell phones, etc. ' used by the White House, RNC, Justice Department or any other federal agencies.

But Conyers and Sanchez left that possibility open: 'To the extent that you [RNC] take the position that deleted e-mails cannot be retrieved, we must insist that, at the very least, technical experts working with us have the opportunity to question and work with RNC personnel to seek such recovery.'

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