Committee Leaders Meet with White House Counsel Ruemmler, But White House Refuses to Turn Over Internal Solyndra Communications Despite Evidence that Those Closest to President Obama Were Instrumental in Pushing the Solyndra Loan
WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-FL) today met with White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler in the ongoing effort to gain White House cooperation and obtain internal White House communications related to the ongoing Solyndra investigation. The committee leaders also invited Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO), who were in attendance. Today’s meeting also follows Chairman Upton’s communications to White House Chief of Staff William Daley last Thursday, October 27, 2011. Unfortunately, despite these repeated efforts to negotiate document production without the need for a subpoena, the White House failed to produce internal White House documents related to Solyndra or answer basic questions about the documents.
The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a business meeting at 9:00a.m. on Thursday, November 3, 2011, in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building to consider a resolution authorizing the issuance of a subpoena for certain records of the Executive Office of the President and the Office of the Vice President relating to the Solyndra loan guarantee. The authorization for the subpoena is the next investigative step in ensuring congressional access to documents that are specifically relevant to the Solyndra investigation. Recently produced documents revealed that the President’s closest confidantes in the White House participated in decisions regarding the Solyndra loan.
Chairmen Upton and Stearns made the following statement following the meeting with Ruemmler:
“Sadly, despite our outreach, the White House still refuses to turn over internal Solyndra-related communications. We have exercised extraordinary restraint and patience these last eight months in the face of an administration that has fought our efforts to protect taxpayers every step of the way. Our document requests have been reasonable, yet the stalling tactics from the Obama administration have been prodigious. Document productions from OMB and DOE still remain unfulfilled to this day, and we are disappointed to see the same delay and diversion strategies being employed in response to our request for internal White House documents. We will continue to seek cooperation from the White House as our thoughtful and deliberate investigation continues and we remain committed to uncovering the truth in our effort to protect American taxpayers.”
The business meeting is open to the public and press. A copy of the motion authorizing the subpoena is available on the Energy and Commerce Committee website HERE. Opening statements, the background memo, and a live webcast will also be available online.
NOTE: Committee leaders have acknowledged their intent to respect Executive Privilege in this inquiry, although the White House Counsel, in two separate letters to the Committee, has yet to assert it. Committee leaders recognize that the president’s personal communications would most likely be covered by an assertion of Executive Privilege. However, committee leaders fail to see why internal White House communications between senior White House advisors about a loan guarantee to a solar panel manufacturer would implicate issues of national security or the other foundations upon which the Supreme Court has recognized Executive Privilege. The administration continues to release lengthy and sometimes redundant Solyndra-related documents from the agencies, including the Department of Energy, but these document productions do not respond to the clear and necessary congressional request for internal White House documents.
On Wednesday evening, the White House Counsel’s office responded to the committee’s request with a proposal to limit the scope of the inquiry. Unfortunately, the communication did not confirm that the White House woulddeliver any requested documents. The committee determined the need to move forward with authorizing subpoena authority, but intend to continue working with the White House to negotiate the parameters of the document production under the subpoena, including consideration of their proposals on initial categories of documents to produce.
Internal documents and emails produced as part of the investigation – some of them only delivered after being compelled by an earlier subpoena – show significant interest in and monitoring of the Solyndra loan guarantee by senior West Wing staff. However, the documents produced thus far only reveal the involvement of White House staff when directly contacting outside agencies. To determine the extent of the West Wing’s involvement as critical decisions were being made about whether to proceed with the loan, it is essential to consider White House staff’s communications with one another. The purpose of the subpoena for White House documents is to secure access to these internal communications among White House staff discussing their knowledge of the Solyndra loan and any efforts they made to secure the guarantee. The committee still hopes to work with the White House to obtain relevant communications from key personnel such as former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, former National Economic Council Director Larry Summers, and Ron Klain, former Chief of Staff to Vice President Biden.
View a copy of Upton’s and Stearns’ October 5, 2011, letter to the White House HERE.
View a copy of the White House Counsel’s refusal to cooperate HERE.
View a copy of Upton’s and Stearns’ October 18, 2011, follow-up letter to the White House HERE.
View a copy of the White House Counsel’s second refusal to cooperate HERE.