The White House is circling the legal wagons regarding the release of communications the executive branch has engaged in concerning the Solyndra debacle, according to a Politico
obtained on Friday.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., and House Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., requested internal White House communications this month as part of their investigation into Solyndra's $535 million federal loan guarantee and the company's ensuing financial implosion.
White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler's letter to Upton and Stearns told them that their request for all internal White House communications concerning Solyndra "implicates long-standing and significant institutional Executive Branch confidentiality interests."
The Republican leaders of the two panels did not specifically say they wanted to include in those communications President Barack Obama's BlackBerry messages but Stearns told reporters, "If there is nothing on his BlackBerry, that's fine. But if there's something on his BlackBerry, I would assume that would include that."
Stearns said he considers anything concerning Solyndra that was contained on the president's BlackBerry part of the request for all internal communications on the issue.
Ruemmler told Upton and Stearns that they should be content with the plethora of Solyndra-related documents they have received from federal agencies, including the Department of Energy (DOE), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the Treasury Department.
Alluding to the BlackBerry communications, Ruemmler writes, "Encroaching upon these important interests is not necessary, however because the agency documents the Commitee 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 Solyndra loan guarantee and the Administration's support of this guarantee'"
Thus far, the federal agencies have submitted more than 70,000 pages of documents for the investigation, and the White House has turned over more than 900 pages of documents involving the Solyndra matter.
Treasury Department and OMB officials have queried the Energy Department concerning their move earlier this year to restructure Solyndra's loan, a move that left taxpayers responsible for approximately $75 million if Solyndra went down.
Ruemmler's lettter also went after Republicans' charges of political cronyism concerning Solyndra.
"There is nothing in the documents produced by DOE, OMB, Treasury or the White House that indicates the White House intervened in the Solyndra loan guarantee to benefit a campaign contributor."
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