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For Immediate Release
April 23, 2012

Grassley Presses for More Details About White House Internal Investigation into Colombia Scandal

            WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley is asking the White House Counsel for details regarding the White House’s quick weekend internal investigation about any personnel involvement in the Colombia prostitution scandal.

            On Friday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told the press corps that he saw no need for an internal review of any White House involvement.  At today’s briefing, Carney said that an internal review was performed over the weekend and that no indication of any misconduct by the White House advance staff was found.  He failed to provide any details of the investigation or explain the methodology that was used.

            Grassley said that questions should be answered publicly in order for the White House to set the record straight that the internal investigation was complete and thorough.  Grassley pointed out that President Obama had said that his administration will be the most transparent ever, but has not been forthcoming in several oversight matters that the executive branch is engaged in.

            Here’s a copy of the text of Grassley’s letter.  A signed copy can be found here.

April 23, 2012

Via Electronic Transmission

Kathryn H. Ruemmler
Assistant to the President and White House Counsel
Executive Office of the President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Ms. Ruemmler:  

I read the comments today by White House press secretary Jay Carney regarding the ongoing investigation into the recent events surrounding the recall of 11 Secret Service agents from Colombia.  On Friday evening I questioned Director Sullivan of the Secret Service and Acting Inspector General Edwards at the Department of Homeland Security about whether any members of the White House Communications Agency and/or White House Office of Advance (“White House advance staff”) had overnight guests while in Colombia.   At this time I am awaiting Director Sullivan’s full response to all my questions.  

Today, it was announced by Mr. Carney that over the weekend the White House Counsel’s Office reviewed the matter and concluded that there was “no indication of any misconduct” by White House advance staff.   This came after Mr. Carney was questioned on Friday about the potential need for an internal review of the White House advance staff.   Mr. Carney answered the question by assuring the White House press that, “I have no reason, as I said yesterday, to believe that there is a need for that.”   Further, this afternoon, Mr. Carney refused to provide details of the review conducted by the White House Counsel’s Office.

At the beginning of his administration President Obama released a memorandum entitled “Transparency and Open Government” and stated, “My administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in government.”   However, declining to provide details of the internal review conducted over the weekend, contradicts that goal set by President Obama.  Therefore, to set the record straight about what actions were taken by the White House Counsel’s Office, please provide answers to the following questions:
 
1)    Provide a detailed overview on what led the White House Counsel’s Office to conduct the weekend review?  Was there any thought given to having an independent review?  If not, please explain why not.

2)    How many individuals in the White House Counsel’s Office were involved in this weekend review?

3)    How many total hours were spent on the weekend review?

4)    Was the review coordinated in any way with the Department of Defense to the extent that it covered military employees of the White House Communications Agency (WHCA)?

5)    Were civilian employees of WHCA also examined?

6)    How many White House advance staff were in Colombia prior to the President’s arrival?

7)    How long before the President’s arrival where the White House advance staff present?

8)    How many additional White House staff arrived with the President?

9)    Did the White House Counsel’s Office review hotel records regarding overnight guests for all White House advance staff as well as additional White House Staff who arrived with the President (“other White House staff”) in Cartegena, Colombia?  If so, for what time frame were records reviewed?

10)    How many White House advance staff had overnight guests?

11)    How many other White House staff had overnight guests?

12)    If there were overnight guests, did any White House advance staff or other White House staff with overnight guests pay additional room charges as a result?

13)    Did the White House Counsel’s Office interview all White House advance staff and other White House staff?  If not, why not?

14)    Please provide a detailed overview of all the steps the White House Counsel’s Office took to investigate this matter. 

Thank you for your prompt attention to this request.  I would appreciate your response by April 26, 2012, as it only took a weekend to conduct this review, it should not take long to respond to these questions.  Should you have any questions regarding this letter, please do not hesitate to contact my staff at (202) 224-5225.

Sincerely,

                             
Charles E. Grassley
Ranking Member