GOP Reps Object to WH Executive Privilege to Withhold Solyndra Documents

Oct 17, 2011 8:15pm

Two Republican congressional leaders — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns, R-Fla. – criticized the White House today for turning down an Oct. 5 request  for “(a)ll communications among White House staff and officials relating to the $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra by the Department of Energy between Jan. 20,2009, and the present.”

“What is the White House trying to hide?” Upton and Stearns asked in a joint statement. “Since day one of the Solyndra investigation, the Obama administration has fought us tooth and nail, even forcing us to subpoena documents from [Office of  Management and Budget]. Along the way, they have repeatedly claimed there’s nothing to see and no wrongdoing to uncover, but the facts have proven we are on the right trail. For an administration that campaigned and governs under the banner of transparency, such an overt refusal to share emails directly relevant to an ongoing investigation is deeply troubling.”

On Friday, White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler denied the committee’s request, writing in a letter,  “Your most recent request for internal White House communications from the first day of the current Administration to the present implicates longstanding and significant institutional Executive Branch confidentiality interests. Encroaching upon these important interests is not necessary, however, because the agency documents the Committee has requested, which include communications with the White House, should satisfy the Committee’s stated objective — to ‘understand the involvement of the White House in the review of the Solynrda loan guarantee and the Administration’s support of this guarantee.”

Ruemmler also noted that that Department of Energy, Office of Management and Budget, and the Treasury Department “have to date produced over 70,000 pages of documents, participated in nine briefings for committee staff and provided testimony at several Committee hearings relating to this matter.” The White House has handed over 900 pages of related documents.

Stearns said earlier in the month that anything relevant – including messages on President Obama’s BlackBerry – should be turned over to his committee.

“So if there’s nothing on his BlackBerry, that’s fine,” Stearns said. “But if there’s something on his BlackBerry, I would assume that would include that.”

 

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