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White House given disk containing Lewinsky e-mails that were thought missing

March 29, 2000
Web posted at: 4:30 p.m. EST (2130 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The White House was given a computer disk two weeks ago containing e-mails written by former intern Monica Lewinsky that were thought to be part of a cache of missing White House e-mails sought by various investigators, according to a letter White House lawyer James Gilligan wrote to a federal judge Monday.

The letter is the first acknowledgment by the White House of the existence of the Lewinsky e-mails since the matter was first made public at a congressional hearing last week.

The White House says it does not know the specific contents of the e-mails but that they were likely duplicates of those handed over in response to subpoenas issued by congressional committees, the Justice Department and Independent Counsel Ken Starr.

Several thousand missing e-mails were the subject of a hearing last week held by the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, chaired by Rep. Dan Burton (R-Indiana).

The Justice Department has also opened an investigation, spearheaded by its Campaign Finance Task Force.

The White House has blamed the disappearing e-mails on a computer problem and said the recovery of the correspondence from back up computer tapes could cost several million dollars and take several months.

At a news conference Wednesday, President Bill Clinton promised to fully cooperate with Burton's committee.

"I'm confident whatever is the right thing to do, we'll do," he said.

Robert Haas, a Northrop Grumman employee who worked on the White House e-mail system, said during last week's hearing that while he was trying to repair the problem he did a perfunctory manual search and discovered that a few files included e-mail from Lewinsky.

The Lewinsky e-mails, the exact number of which could not be determined, are said to contain notes from Lewinsky to her friend Ashley Raines and the president's personal secretary Betty Curie, both key figures in the scandal involving Lewinsky and Clinton.

In the letter to U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth, who is considering a government motion to suspend a civil suit in the matter so the Justice Department's investigation can proceed unfettered, Gilligan said the White House "has not reviewed the contents of the disk, but has been advised by counsel for Northrop Grumman that it contains copies of e-mails from Monica Lewinsky."

The White House has said there was no intention to withhold subpoenaed e-mails. White House Counsel Beth Nolan is scheduled to testify on the matter before the Burton committee on Thursday.

 
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