Subpoena Issued in White House E-Mail Scandal

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:26 PM EDT

( - Independent counsel Robert Ray has subpoenaed the National Archives for information on White House record-keeping practices, signaling that he has expanded his probe to include the case of the missing White House e-mails. Ray is Kenneth Starr's successor.

His office issued the subpoena last Tuesday, but wire services didn't learn about it until Monday, six days later.

The National Archives, the government's official record keeper, advised the White House on how to maintain its electronic mail, according to The Washington Times.

Ray's office is now wrapping up loose ends in the six-year probe that began with Whitewater and ended with Monica Lewinsky. Ray apparently wants to know if any e-mails relating to the Clinton-Lewinsky affair were withheld from Kenneth Starr's grand jury.

Ray isn't the only one looking into the never-surrendered White House e-mails: Both the House Government Reform Committee and the Justice Department's campaign finance task force have launched formal investigations into why thousands of White House e-mails were never produced in accordance with subpoenas issued by Kenneth Starr's grand jury and three congressional committees.

The White House blames its apparent failure to fully comply with the subpoenas on a computer glitch - a glitch that caused the White House computer system to overlook e-mails sent from outside the White House.

Because of the glitch, thousands of electronic messages sent to the White House between 1996 and 1998 failed to turn up during a computer search.

In testimony last month before the House Government Reform Committee, a computer technician working under contract to the White House testified that he was warned he'd go to jail if he told anyone about the computer glitch that he and his fellow contractors had discovered. (See Related Story)

The e-mails in question reportedly include messages pertaining to the Monica Lewinsky affair and to Clinton-Gore campaign fund-raising.

The Justice Department announced in March that it would investigate how White House officials handled the computer glitch and whether subpoenas issued by the Justice Department's campaign finance task force were "fully complied with."

The Justice Department also is investigating whether contract computer workers were intimidated by White House staffers, who may have tried to keep the "overlooked" e-mails secret.

"The National Archives did receive a grand-jury subpoena from the independent counsel's office last week. It does relate to record-keeping practices of the executive office of the president," Archives spokeswoman Susan Cooper told reporters Monday. Cooper said the National Archives does intend to comply with the subpoena.

White House spokesman Jim Kennedy told reporters, "We've already made clear the fact that we're fully cooperating on the e-mail issue, and we're continuing to work hard to reconstruct backup tapes to turn out any relevant information as soon as possible."

The White House blames an inadvertent computer programming error for any failure to supply subpoenaed documents, and it denies any attempt to cover up what had happened.

Ray's office is now in the process of writing a final report on its six-year investigation into the Clintons - an investigation that began with the Whitewater land deal and led to impeachment charges against Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky affair.

Ray has signaled that his investigation could end with an indictment of William Jefferson Clinton after he leaves the highest office in the land.