Rove warned in 'manuals, memos, and briefings' to save emails
Further complicating the picture in White House adviser Karl Rove's deleting of numerous e-mails, the Los Angeles Times reports today that the White House had established a policy of saving emails related to official business and warned staff not to delete them.
According to an investigation by the LA Times, the White House took pains to establish a standard email handling procedures on a number of occasions. Among a set of employee manuals from 2001, a memorandum from former White House counsel and current Attorney General Alberto Gonzales explains that "any e-mail relating to official business...qualifies as a presidential record."
Another manual reads, "If you happen to receive an e-mail on a personal account which otherwise qualifies as a presidential record, it is your duty to insure that it is saved as such by printing it out and saving it or by forwarding it to your White House e-mail account."
Apart from revealing a standard White House policy towards saving e-mails, the manuals and memorandums shed doubt on continued claims by administration officials that the erasings were entirely accidental and resulted from poor communications.
Democrats on Capitol Hill have asserted that Rove intentionally skirted the traditional structure by using a RNC list to discuss the matter rather than the more transparent White House business account. Robert D. Luskin, a lawyer for the powerful adviser, denied any wrongdoing, telling the Associated Press that Rove's "understanding starting very, very early in the administration was that those e-mails were being archived."
A column by Rob Pegoraro in today's Washington Post sheds further light on the questionable claim by administration officials that the emails are simply missing.
"This might not seem obvious when you're struggling to locate the e-mail somebody sent you last week, but it's not easy to make an e-mail message vanish for good," Pegora writes. "A lot of the time, it's outright impossible."