White House: Clintons blocking release of documents

The White House put the blame on the Clintons for holding up the release of documents relating to Hillary Clinton’s activities during Bill’s administration. Hillary and Bill have both claimed to want the documents released as soon as possible, but Dana Perino says the Clintons have had the authority to approve releases for four weeks. So far, no one has heard from them:

The White House on Wednesday blamed the Clintons for a month-long delay in the release of some 11,000 pages of records relating to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s years as first lady, despite Sen. Clinton’s contention at Tuesday night’s debate that she has “urged that the process [of releasing documents] be as quick as possible.”

White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said that Clinton representatives have known since Jan. 31 that the documents — Hillary Clinton’s daily public schedule during her husband’s presidency — have been deemed ready for public release by the National Archives.

But under a November 2001 exectuive order, the White House can’t make them available to the public until approval is given by a designated representative of former President Bill Clinton.

“Presently, we have not received notice that the Clinton representative has reached a decision on the release or withholding of any of Mrs. Clinton’s schedules,” Perino said, adding that the White House has not objected to approval of any of the more than 550,000 pages of documents released so far from the Clinton years.

This would make more of an impact if Hillary hadn’t fallen so far off the pace in recent primaries. Barack Obama could use this to scold her on the trail, but right now he doesn’t need to sound like a George Bush echo. It will make little difference to Obama now whether those records come to light or not — he will almost certainly beat her to the nomination in the next four or five weeks regardless. She isn’t the issue any longer in the race.

It does remind everyone else why the end of the Clinton era could not come fast enough. Hillary and her team have tried to have it both ways on the experience issue — that she simultaneously can use the Clinton administration’s record to show how she can take charge on Day One, but we can’t check the record to see how she’ll govern. It’s the same with NAFTA; Hillary argues that she will bring back the Clinton economic environment, but then tries to run away from one of its major components. The lack of honesty in the Clintons showed in the debate, when Hillary tried to blame Bush for holding up documents that her counsel later admitted today he has in his hands:

“To be clear, there is no delay. After a six month review, [the National Archives and Records Administration] finished the first step of the process of reviewing 11,000 pages of First Lady Hillary Clinton schedules on January 31, 2008. I have been reviewing those schedules and expect to complete that part of the process within the 45 day window allotted by NARA. More importantly, because of President Clinton’s commitment to make public a full record of his presidency, I will be recommending that NARA release more information than they currently have designated for release.”

Republicans could have had a field day facing off against the Clintons in the general election, but having the party that they built reject them seems like a more fitting fate. If Barack Obama makes the mistake of adding her as his running mate — unlikely for a number of reasons, but possible — Republicans will dive into these records with gusto.