On Thursday the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations voted to subpoena the White House for internal documents relating to the Solyndra loan scandal. Today, the White House responded by asking the committee to revise their subpoenas, arguing that the request as written is too broad and infringes on executive privilege. Politico reports:
White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler said in a letter to GOP leaders of the Energy and Commerce Committee that the information that they’ve demanded via subpoena appears focused on a “general curiosity about internal White House communications.”
“Such curiosity is not a sufficient justification for encroaching on longstanding and important Executive Branch confidentiality interests, particularly when none of the more than 85,000 pages of documents produced to date evidence any favoritism to political supporters or wrongdoing by the White House,” Ruemmler wrote to committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and oversight subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-Fla).
“We remain willing to work with the committee to accommodate its legitimate oversight interests in a balanced manner,” she added. “Given the breadth of the subpoena, I hope that the committee’s public statement that it intends to negotiate the scope of any document production is sincere.”
House Republicans sent their subpoenas to the White House late Thursday, addressing them to both White House chief of staff Bill Daley and Joe Biden’s chief of staff Bruce Reed, or their designees. The White House has until Nov. 10 to reply with information on what is in the West Wing files, although not the documents themselves.
The subpoenas seek “all documents referring or relating to any investor in Solyndra” including financial contributions from investors and “the influence of campaign contributions on the decision whether or not to grant or restructure the Solyndra loan guarantee.”
Republicans also asked for information dealing with Solyndra’s financial condition and communications surrounding three key moments for the company: during the period around DOE’s March 2009 conditional commitment to Solyndra, the September 2009 closing of the loan guarantee and the February 2011 restructuring of the terms of the loan guarantee.
Republicans claim the subpoena’s had already been narrowed down from earlier drafts. Reps. Fred Upton (R., Mich.), full committee chairman, and Cliff Stearns (R., Fla.), chairman of the subcommittee, said in a statement that they have “reasonable every step of the way in this investigation” and expressed disappointed as the administration’s refusal to comply.
“We need to know the White House’s role in the Solyndra debacle in order to learn the full truth about why taxpayers now find themselves a half billion dollars in the hole,” they said. “Our request for documents is reasonable – we are not demanding the President’s blackberry messages as we are respectful of Executive Privilege. What is the West Wing trying to hide? We owe it to American taxpayers to find out.”