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With Congress planning more hearings into the White House’s cover-up
of a huge gap in subpoenaed e-mail, it’s no wonder that the nation’s
chief executive says he avoids using e-mail.
At least that’s what he told a 9-year-old boy when the lad asked him
how he uses the Internet last month during a “digital divide” photo-op.
“If you work for the government,” President Clinton explained, “you
don’t use e-mail very much unless you want it all in the newspapers.”
Of course, Clinton was making a joke at his own expense.
In February, a former White House computer manager blew the whistle
on a massive e-mail “cover-up,” a scandal that could hold keys to
several other White House scandals — from Clinton-Gore fund-raising
abuses to stockpiled FBI dossiers to perjury and obstruction-of-justice
charges stemming from the Paula Jones sexual-harassment lawsuit.
For nearly two-and-a-half years, the White House has hidden from
investigators a gaping hole in e-mail records under subpoena. “Project
X,” as it was called by secretive White House officials, involves the
curious omission from archives of some million e-mails and attached
documents sent mainly to the West Wing from sources central to various
The sources, all outside the White House, include Democratic National
Committee officials and Clinton mistress and former White House intern,
Monica Lewinsky. The gap in West Wing e-mail archives starts sometime in
August 1996 and ends Nov. 20, 1998.
But Clinton’s wise-crack may also have been designed to mislead.
Records show Clinton has in fact used his White House e-mail account,
albeit sparingly. Forget about newspapers; investigators themselves have
never seen at least two of his e-mails, even though they’ve been under
subpoena by Congress, a federal court, the Justice Department and
They may be of particular interest to Independent Counsel Bob Ray,
who has signaled he’s building a case to indict Clinton, once he leaves
office, for allegedly lying under oath and tampering with witnesses in
the Jones case. (Though not stored in the White House’s easy-to-search
computerized archive system, the e-mails still reside on the server, as
well as on emergency back-up tapes.)
Clinton’s Lotus Notes e-mail user account was created June 30, 1997.
An audit of e-mail accounts completed June 18, 1998, by a White House
computer contractor shows Clinton’s account contained eight e-mails in
just that 12-month period (excluding any he’d deleted by the day of the
audit). Of those, two were never archived and searched for compliance
All that’s known about the two AWOL messages is that they were sent
to Clinton from someone outside the White House’s local area network.
And that the earlier of the two was sent on Dec. 8, 1997 (a Monday),
audit logs show.
Who could have been e-mailing the president back then?
Rewind to that month. On Dec. 5, 1997 (the previous Friday), lawyers
for Jones named Lewinsky as a potential witness in Jones’s sex suit
against the president.
Within a day, Clinton learned that Lewinsky’s name was on the witness
list. Several days later, Clinton called Lewinsky in the middle of the
night at her Watergate flat to talk about a cover story. The next day
they met to discuss what to do with subpoenaed gifts.
It was also after Dec. 5, 1997, that Clinton’s lawyer pal Vernon
Jordan intensified his efforts to find Lewinsky a job.
Clinton’s personal secretary, Betty Currie, was also busy that month.
She picked up a box of gifts from Lewinsky and stashed it under her bed.
Pounding their keyboards
As much as they e-mailed each other, it’s a wonder that Currie and
Lewinsky, then at the Pentagon, got any work done.
On June 30, 1998, a Northrop Grumman computer contractor was tasked
with mining the e-mail server used by Clinton and his aides for
unarchived Lewinsky e-mail. It was just a “sample search,” to get an
idea of how many documents were being denied the independent counsel at
Yet the contractor, Robert Haas (who swears officials threatened him
with jail if he talked about what he was doing), managed to print out
enough e-mail sent to Currie, as well as to former White House aide
Ashley Raines, to fill up an expandable folder about 8 inches thick.
(The White House just recently turned the batch over to Congress.)
Haas also ran the audit of e-mail accounts. Between November 1996 and
June 1998, Currie’s user account contained 6,372 e-mails, his 75-page
report says. Of those, 811 were never archived as required by federal
records law. The oldest is from November 1996.
Nearly 500 e-mails are from Lewinsky, Haas says. It’s not clear if
Jordan also e-mailed Currie. But after news of the Lewinsky affair broke
in January 1998, Currie and Jordan were in regular contact.
The audit shows Raines, who is Clinton’s goddaughter, had 9,958
e-mails, of which 1,477 were never archived or searched. The oldest
message was sent to her in May 1997.
The list of officials in the audit is a who’s who of the Lewinsky
Former White House lawyer Cheryl Mills shows up on it. It turns out
that investigators haven’t seen a whopping 3,061 e-mails sent to her
between November 1996 and June 1998. She also was in close contact with
Jordan in January 1998.
Mills defended Clinton in the Senate impeachment trial. Her boss at
the time, White House Counsel Charles Ruff, knew of the hole in Lewinsky
e-mail records. In fact, he’d known since at least June 19, 1998, when
he got a memo explaining the problem.
Ruff got five unarchived e-mails, the earliest in April 1998.
Former Clinton Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles also met with Jordan
after the Lewinsky scandal blew up. At least 161 of his e-mails are
What lurks in Nancy Hernreich’s stash of 133 unarchived e-mails? As
Oval Office director, she played a key role in the Lewinsky
Bruce “The Fixer” Lindsey
Then there’s top Clinton aide Bruce Lindsey, the de facto chief of
White House damage-control operations. Investigators haven’t seen 17 of
his e-mails, the oldest of which was sent to him in November 1996.
Asked about the document hole in a recent interview, he said he had
no clue that any of his e-mails had bypassed the archiving system.
E-mails of other Clinton aides who took part in the White House’s
swarming impeachment defense remain unexamined as well.
They include: Rahm Emanuel (37 unarchived e-mails), Michael McCurry
(6), John Podesta (157), Ann Lewis (30), Joseph Lockhart (32), Lanny
Breuer (187), Lynn Cutler (390), Paul Begala (39) and Sidney Blumenthal
(126). In December 1998, at the height of the impeachment crisis,
Blumenthal asked White House computer experts to delete his e-mails from
the permanent archives, according to a Jan. 6, 1999, White House memo.
The trove of omitted e-mails sent to West Wing officials also
includes messages from DNC officials from 1996 to 1998, former White
House official Sheryl Hall said in a recent interview. She was in charge
of computer operations for much of her seven years in the Clinton White
Likely recipients of DNC missives include former Clinton aide Doris
Matsui. She was heavily involved in fund raising during the 1996
campaign cycle. In fact, Matsui shows up on convicted Clinton-Gore
fund-raiser John Huang’s appointment book when he was a Commerce
Huang also scheduled lunches with Matsui’s husband, Rep. Robert
Matsui, D-Calif. It was Matsui who introduced Vice President Al Gore at
the DNC’s illegal Buddhist temple fund-raiser in Los Angeles in 1996.
Matsui’s stash of unarchived e-mails? At least 3,407.
Phillip Caplan was another White House official who corresponded with
the DNC. He wrote the White House memo during the 1996 campaign that
called for setting aside $1 million in potential fines for fund-raising
violations — to which Clinton wrote “Ugh” in the memo’s margin.
Prosecutors for Attorney General Janet Reno’s campaign-finance task
force, which has so far been unable to come up with a single DNC or
White House indictment, might find it useful now to sift through
Caplan’s unarchived e-mail. At least 944 of his in-coming e-mails were
never turned over to them for review.
Did any of first lady Hillary Clinton’s e-mails get past
investigators? If she has an e-mail user account, it doesn’t show up in
the 75-page Northrop Grumman audit of accounts tied to the White House
server with the so-called archiving “glitch.”
Hillary not web-savvy
But sources tell WND that Clinton, running for New York’s Senate
seat, claimed earlier last month in a private meeting with New York
computer executives that she does not use e-mail, nor does she use the
Internet much. Security issues, she explained.
The audit, which took several days of Haas punching up the more than
500 accounts on the server, found at least 246,000 e-mails that were
never recorded by the White House’s archiving system, which is used by
the records-management group to search for documents under subpoena.
But that quarter-million document gap extends through just June 1998,
when Haas did the audit. Contractors didn’t fix the server until
So the audit missed five months of records-bleeding, a period that
covers Lewinsky’s and Clinton’s grand-jury testimonies, as well as the
House impeachment proceedings.
Hall puts the total e-mail gap over the full 28 months of bleeding at
about 950,000 — based on the fact that an average of 23,000 e-mails
come into the Executive Office of the President each day.
The White House, however, won’t even acknowledge the 246,000 gap.
“We do not know how many e-mails were affected” by the archiving
“glitch,” claimed White House Counsel Beth Nolan in a March 17 letter to
Further, she claimed, “We do not know if any responsive information
is contained in the unrecorded e-mails.”
But judging from the high-level stashes that have turned up on the
audit, that may be wishful thinking.