SMIDGEN REPORT UPDATE: ‘Please Delete HealthCare.gov E-mails with White House’Posted: August 15, 2014
Jillian Kay Melchior writes: During the first week of HealthCare.gov’s troubled launch, Marilyn Tavenner, the chief of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told an agency spokesperson to delete an e-mail exchange with the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services, according to new records released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“Right on cue, when the going gets tough, the Obama administration proclaims it can’t find the documents.”
— Committee Chairman Fred Upton
This development comes just a week after CMS’s admission that Tavenner had probably deleted e-mails that may be public record — “in order to stay below the agency’s Microsoft Outlook email size limit,” wrote MSNBC, which broke the story on August 7.
But today’s letter from the House committee to Tavenner says: “One of the e-mails in this production shows that you directed a subordinate to delete an e-mail communication featuring a number of White House representatives. This e-mail is an October 5, 2013, communication in which you forwarded a discussion with White House representatives to the Director of Communications for CMS with the message: ‘Please delete this email- but please see if we can work on call script.’”
The committee concludes: “This contradicts the letter [CMS recently] sent to the National Archives, which explained that your practice was to instruct subordinates to retain copies of e-mails.”
The Department of Health and Human Services redacted the names of some recipients included on that October 5, 2013, correspondence, justifying it by claiming this information was withheld to address “longstanding Executive Branch institutional interests.”
That may be a reference to White House Equity, a new practice introduced by White House counsel Gregory Craig in April 2009 that allows White House lawyers to review before release some records requested by Congress, inspectors general. Or journalists. Although the 2009 memo doesn’t define what constitutes White House Equity, it appears to cover all correspondences involving the White House as an interlocutor…(read more)
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for National Review as a Thomas L. Rhodes Fellow for the Franklin Center. She is also a Senior Fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.
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- Crooks. Twenty Different Obama Officials & Witnesses Have Lost Their Emails (thegatewaypundit.com)
- Issa: More Than 20 Obama Officials ‘Lost or Destroyed’ Emails After House Launched Probes (nationalreview.com)
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