Now we know why the Clinton-Gore administration was so intent upon stonewalling the retrieval of more than 100,000 e-mail messages that the White House communications system failed to archive. They implicate Vice President Al Gore in giving perjurious testimony.
In a typical Friday afternoon document dump, conveniently timed to be reported in the little-read Saturday newspapers, the White House recently released the first batch of recovered e-mails. Significantly, these e-mails had been recovered not by the White House but by the FBI, which was given the task after the White House had purposely been dragging its feet.
The newly released e-mails leave little doubt that the vice president’s staffers knew well in advance that the notorious Buddhist luncheon Mr. Gore attended in April 1996 was in fact a fund-raiser. What, then, are the chances that Mr. Gore did not know? Three weeks before the illegal fund-raiser was held at the Buddhist temple, for which longtime Gore bagwoman Maria Hsia was later convicted of multiple felonies, an e-mail written by Mr. Gore’s scheduler referred to “fund-raising events” in Los Angeles and San Jose. The same message then lists the Buddhist luncheon as the only Los Angeles event scheduled that day.
An April 23, 1996, e-mail written by Karen Skelton, Mr. Gore’s political director, refers to upcoming White House coffees. “These are FR coffees right?” Ms. Skelton asks another Gore staffer. The two-letter acronymn obviously refers to “fund-raisers” or “fund-raising.”
Clearly, the long-missing e-mails cast significant doubt on the truthfulness of the testimony Vice President Al Gore gave under oath in April to Justice Department campaign-finance task-force chief Robert J. Conrad Jr. That is hardly a surprise. After all, Mr. Conrad, echoing earlier recommendations from FBI Director Louis Freeh and former task-force chief Charles LaBella, had strongly advised Attorney General Janet Reno of the need for an independent counsel to investigate Mr. Gore for suspected perjury and other felonies Mr. Gore may have committed during the 1996 presidential campaign.
Among other things, Mr. Gore testified under oath that he did not know if the coffees were “fund-raising tools” and maintained, against all the evidence to the contrary, that the Buddhist temple event was not a fund-raiser.
Last month Attorney Miss. Reno rejected Mr. Conrad’s recommendation to appoint an independent counsel. If she reviewed these e-mails before reaching her conclusion, then her willful obstructionism will have reached a new low. If not, then she must consider them now and take the action recommended by Messrs. Conrad, LaBella and Freeh.