The instruction appears significant for several reasons: First, the email to be deleted included an exchange between key White House officials and CMS officials. Second, the email was dated October 5, 2013, five days into the disastrous launch of HealthCare.gov. Third, federal law requires federal officials to retain copies of –not delete– email exchanges. And fourth, the document to be deleted is covered under Congressional subpoena as well as longstanding Freedom of Information requests made by members of the media (including me).
In a letter today, House Energy and Commerce leaders asked Tavenner to explain why she asked her colleague to delete the email, and the letter questions whether there are other instances in which she instructed HHS staff to delete emails. The letter also asks for more details regarding Congressional subpoenaed documents, including Tavenner emails, that CMS recently said might be permanently lost; and it requests an explanation as to why redactions are made in some documents provided to Congress so far.