Posted by Curt on 26 February, 2014 at 4:28 pm. Be the first to comment!



A trove of Clinton White House records long processed for release remains hidden from public view at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock — even though the legal basis initially used to withhold them expired more than a year ago.

The papers contain confidential advice given to or sought by President Bill Clinton, including communications with then-first lady Hillary Clinton, and records about people considered for appointments to federal office.

About 33,000 pages of documents are involved, according to the National Archives, which runs the library.

Under the Presidential Records Act, such records can be withheld for up to 12 years after a president leaves office. However, at the 12-year mark, those broad restrictions fall away and the once-secret presidential papers are generally subject to disclosure. For the Clinton files, that milestone came and went in January 2013.

The long-sealed records pose a delicate series of choices for the Clintons, and even President Barack Obama. They could allow disclosure of the papers, fueling new stories about old controversies like Whitewater and pardons granted as the 42nd president left office in 2001. Or they could fight to keep some or all of the files secret, likely triggering a court battle and stoking concerns that the former president and his wife are unduly secretive.

Either way, it’s a potentially messy situation unfolding just as Hillary Clinton — widely considered a clear front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination — mulls over whether to make a second bid to return to the White House.

It’s not entirely clear who’s responsible for the delay, since the release process involves the library and National Archives headquarters, as well as lawyers for the former president and Obama.

Unlike collections in other hands, the withheld files at the Clinton Library are under the control of the federal government. Obama would have to choose whether to back any privilege assertion by the ex-president — a move that would be in tension with public statements Obama made as a candidate and as president, promising to improve access to presidential records. Even the long delays in accessing the files raise significant questions about whether reforms Obama imposed on his first day in office are working.

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