White House Blames Clintons for Document Delay

Feb 27, 2008 1:02pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein Reports: The White House on Wednesday blamed the Clintons for a month-long delay in the release of some 11,000 pages of records relating to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s years as first lady, despite Sen. Clinton’s contention at Tuesday night’s debate that she has "urged that the process [of releasing documents] be as quick as possible."

White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said that Clinton representatives have known since Jan. 31 that the documents — Hillary Clinton’s daily public schedule during her husband’s presidency — have been deemed ready for public release by the National Archives.

But under a November 2001 exectuive order, the White House can’t make them available to the public until approval is given by a designated representative of former President Bill Clinton.

"Presently, we have not received notice that the Clinton representative has reached a decision on the release or withholding of any of Mrs. Clinton’s schedules," Perino said, adding that the White House has not objected to approval of any of the more than 550,000 pages of documents released so far from the Clinton years.

"It is our intent and has been the practice to act on any requests as quickly as possible," Perino said.

On Tuesday, Clinton was asked about the backlog by debate moderator Tim Russert. She said she had urged both her husband’s representatives and the Bush administration to move as quickly as possible in releasing the records.

"I’ve urged that the process be as quick as possible," said Clinton, D-N.Y. "And I have urged that our end of it move as expeditiously as we can. Now, also, President Bush claims the right to look at anything that is released, and I would urge the Bush White House to move as quickly as possible."

Pressed by Russert whether, after a month, the documents could be sent to the White House for final review "immediately," Clinton responded: "As soon as we can, Tim. I’ve urged that, and I hope it will happen."

Perino said Wednesday that the backlog exists entirely on the Clintons’ end.

"There are none that are ripe for White House action that we know of," she said. "And, no, to my knowledge we have not been contacted by Mrs. Clinton or anyone else about moving more quickly with the review and release of Clinton material, specifically, her schedules."

UPDATE: In response to the comments from the White House, the Clinton Foundation issued this statement from Bruce Lindsey — the former president’s point person for reviewing documents for public release — indicating that the documents will be sent to the White House for final review within the next two weeks:

"To be clear, there is no delay. After a six month review, [the National Archives and Records Administration] finished the first step of the process of reviewing 11,000 pages of First Lady Hillary Clinton schedules on January 31, 2008.  I have been reviewing those schedules and expect to complete that part of the process within the 45 day window allotted by NARA. More importantly, because of President Clinton’s commitment to make public a full record of his presidency, I will be recommending that NARA release more information than they currently have designated for release."

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