Leahy Grills DOJ Official On Missing John Yoo Emails (VIDEO)

February 26, 2010 7:12 a.m.

At the hearing on the Justice Department torture memos report today, Sen. Patrick Leahy demanded to know whether the DOJ would investigate the missing John Yoo emails — and determine whether criminal charges are warranted.

Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler told Leahy that he would get back to the committee after looking into the technical aspects of what happened to the emails.Yoo himself will not make a statement on the emails because there is “no reason why he would know about whether they are missing or why, since he was long gone (by several years) when OPR investigated the matter,” his attorney, Miguel Estrada, told TPMmuckraker in an email.

The National Archives has fired off a letter to the DOJ inquiring about the missing emails. Separately, a good government group and the New York Times this week called on the DOJ to investigate what happened to the emails.

The OPR report says that “we were told that most of Yoo’s records had been deleted and were not recoverable.” The missing emails are from the period in which Yoo was drafting legal opinions on interrogation techniques that are now known as the torture memos.

Here’s part of the exchange between Leahy and Grindler this morning:

And here’s a partial transcript:

LEAHY: “The federal criminal statute … prohibit the destruction of these federal records. Have they disappeared? If they have, and if they have been destroyed — either the Yoo emails, the Philbin emails — will the department make ultimate determination whether the destruction was criminal, in violation of the criminal statutes, which seem fairly clear?

GRINDLER: “Chairman Leahy, what I would like to do — I first want to get the information back from the information technology experts, including all of the questions of what occurred, what the policies are, and what the archive system is. And at that point I’ll be in a position to evaluate whether anything additional needs to be done.

I would point out, in addition, though, the report does include a review of some of Mr. Yoo’s e-mails. … Emails within the department that he sent or may have received would have been to some extent contained in other people’s e-mail boxes. All I’m saying is that the report doesn’t have a complete lack of his e-mails. But as soon as I learn the facts regarding this, I will provide appropriate information back to this committee.”

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