Washington Post Endorses Presidential Records Bill; Fallout Continues for the Clinton Campaign

The Washington Post issued an editorial this week calling for Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) to lift his hold on Senate consideration of the Presidential Records Reform bill (H.R. 1255) that would revoke President Bush’s Executive Order 13233. The National Coalition for History has argued for years that the EO 13233 has contributed to delays in the release of presidential records. The editorial cited both the EO and the lack of adequate financial resources at the National Archives as the reasons why the processing of presidential records, including those of the Clintons, have been delayed.

Meanwhile, the presidential records issue continues to remain a political albatross for Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) in her campaign for the Democratic nomination. In an article posted on the Chicago Tribune’s political blog, the Senator was called to task by the liberal interest group Public Citizen for not cosponsoring H.R. 1255. There is an additional article on the same webpage called “Clinton Library A Closed Book.”

“If Senator Clinton is really serious about transparency in the executive branch, she could demonstrate her interest in openness now by signing on to the bill to repeal the Bush Executive Order,” said Angela Canterbury, field and outreach director for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch.

When the Tribune reporter sought comment from Senator Clinton’s office they got a bifurcated response from her spokesperson Philipe Reines. First he said her staff “was reviewing that specific piece of legislation.” Then he said, “Senator Clinton believes that President Bush’s 2001 Executive Order was wholly unnecessary and is inconsistent with the spirit of the Presidential Records Act, and therefore supports legislative efforts to reverse that order.” So apparently Senator Clinton supports legislative efforts to overturn the Bush EO, but she still hasn’t announced her support for the Senate bill that will do just that.

All this has not gone unnoticed by the folks at the Republican National Committee who have set up a website where the public can sign a petition with the hope it, “will inspire Hillary to agree to share the library documents as her New Year’s resolution.” Those who sign the petition get to print out their own Hillary Clinton Library Card.

One bright note for the Senator this week was a retraction published by the Annenberg Foundation’s “FactCheck.org” which describes itself as “a nonpartisan, nonprofit, ‘consumer advocate’ for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.” In its initial coverage of the October 31 Democratic Presidential debate, they had said her answer to Tim Russert’s question about waiving restrictions in a 2002 letter President Clinton sent to the National Archives on conversations between the president and the First Lady was “misleading.” Upon further review, FactCheck.org concluded it was Russert who was misleading and concluded, “We originally read the sentence [in the 2002 letter] as putting a lock on the documents. That isn’t the case. . .The bottleneck is at the lightly staffed Archives.”

Finally, an interesting article in the Boston Globe addressed the odd set historical set of circumstances caused by the confluence of the Bush, and possibly Clinton, families hold over the presidency and vice-presidency since George H. W. Bush became vice president under Ronald Reagan in 1981. It delves into the potential for abuse should the two families control the release of presidential records from from that date forward.