- The Washington Times - Friday, July 21, 2000

A federal judge Thursday ordered an evidentiary hearing concerning accusations by a public interest law firm that the White House lost thousands of e-mail messages and later obstructed justice when it sought to cover up the fact the messages were missing.
U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth, who earlier this week accused the White House of keeping him in the dark about how long it would take to restore thousands of lost Clinton administration e-mail messages, ordered the July 31 session after ruling that the facts in the case are "clearly in dispute and cannot be resolved without a hearing."
The hearing, sought by Judicial Watch, a conservative public interest law firm that has a pending $90 million lawsuit against the White House in the Filegate scandal, will feature a number of witnesses including several White House officials involved in the e-mail flap.
Judge Lamberth Thursday also ordered a test demonstration for Friday by On Track Data International to determine how long it would take to copy and retrieve the missing e-mail. Earlier this week, he told White House lawyers he was never advised that revised estimates for the project were vastly different from what administration lawyers had originally projected.
He said he was never told that a series of unsuccessful computer tests in the project had caused delays, resulting in estimates that range from a few months to several years.
"You weren't going to admit that until it was drug out of you in this hearing," Judge Lamberth told Justice Department lawyer James Gilligan, who is arguing the case on behalf of the White House.
The White House has acknowledged that thousands of e-mail messages, including those involving Mr. Gore, former White House intern Monica Lewinsky and campaign fund raising, had been lost because of a computer glitch.
In February, The Washington Times reported the missing e-mail messages and the glitch, which had first been discovered in May, 1998, by Northrop Grumman Corp. contract workers. The workers traced a programming error on one of four White House Lotus Notes e-mail servers back to August, 1996, and found the server was mislabeled and a search of e-mail messages under subpoena was incomplete.
Five Northrop Grumman employees later told a House committee they were warned not to discuss the problem. Three of them said they were threatened with jail. The White House has denied that anyone was threatened.

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