January 12, 2001
National Archives Ensures Legal Custody of Clinton Emails
College Park, MD. . . The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the Executive Office of the President (EOP) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on January 11, 2001, ensuring that, after January 20, 2001, the National Archives will have sole legal custody of the Clinton-Gore Administration electronic mail records that are governed by the Presidential Records Act ("PRA"), 44 U.S.C. 2201. The Agreement further states that any access to these records by staff from the EOP, Office of Administration ("OA"), their contractors, or any other party, shall be controlled exclusively by NARA and shall be governed by the PRA, NARA regulations, and Executive Order 12667 on Presidential Records.
This MOU is necessary because, after January 20, 2001, the EOP, OA will retain the responsibility of completing the ongoing restoration and reformatting projects to restore missing emails associated with the White House Automatic Records Management System ("ARMS") and to address technical deficiencies relating to ARMS. The restoration and reformatting projects will take place at an offsite facility leased by EOP, OA near the National Archives at College Park. For security purposes, NARA will maintain a complete set of the original electronic media that back up the information used in completing these projects.
The MOU was filed before U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth on January 11, 2001, in the case of Alexander v. FBI, which involves White House emails. The Court held a hearing January 12, on the status of White House emails, in light of the transition and has taken the matter under review.
As set forth in the MOU, NARA will be responsible for responding to all special access requests and subpoenas that are made pursuant to the PRA by investigative bodies or other requesting parties for documents or information, and conducting searches of the Clinton Presidential and Gore Vice Presidential e-mail records. The PRA generally restricts public access to Clinton Presidential and Gore Vice Presidential records for five years after the end of the Administration, and then further restricts from public access specific categories of records for an additional seven years. Public access to Clinton Presidential records, including e-mails, will generally be through the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, AR.
For further information, the media may contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at 301-837-1700.The text of the MOU is available through NARA's web site.