GREATEST HITS, 4: Obama puts his presidential records off-limits for 12 years

Welcome to the Countdown: Top 21 stories of 2017.

by WorldTribune Staff, January 9, 2017

President Barack Obama has opted to keep his presidential records under wraps for 12 years after he leaves office on Jan. 20.

Obama sent a letter to the National Archives in July authorizing close aide Anita Decker Breckenridge to act as his representative in the release of his White House records in future decades.

President Barack Obama in the Oval Office. /Pete Souza/White House
President Barack Obama in the Oval Office. /Pete Souza/White House

The letter was released to Politico on Jan. 6 under the Freedom of Information Act.

Obama’s notice, dated July 26, 2016, means that if he were to die or become incapacitated before 2029, Breckenridge would retain discretion over which advice and appointment-related records should be made public, according to Politico.

“If a president were to die in office without signing a letter similar to the one Obama signed in July, much of that confidential advice could go public after five years,” the Politico report said.

Both Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush signed their restriction letters less than two years after taking office. Obama waited until year eight of his presidency to sign his.

Clinton’s notice, signed in 1994, named then-first lady Hillary Clinton and close adviser Bruce Lindsey as official representatives under the Presidential Records Act.

Clinton’s letter was the subject of controversy in 2007 during Hillary Clinton’s first bid for the presidency.

During a nationally televised debate between Hillary Clinton and Obama, late NBC Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert said the directive put any White House records of communications between the former first lady and her husband off limits until 2012. “Would you lift that ban?” Russert asked.

“We’ll move as quickly as our circumstances and the processes of the National Archives permits,” Hillary Clinton responded.

Obama objected, calling the secrecy “a problem” that made it hard for Democrats to criticize Bush for leading “one of the most secretive administrations in our history.”

Bill Clinton later said that his wife had been sandbagged and that Russert had mischaracterized the letter.

“She was incidental to the letter,” the former president insisted. “It was a letter to speed up presidential releases, not to slow them down.”

On his first day in office, Obama rolled back a Bush executive order that historians said gave the families of deceased presidents too much power to withhold presidential records.


For complete list of the 2017 21 Greatest Hits at WorldTribune.com, Click here:

GREATEST HITS, 21: Report says DNC files were copied, not hacked, 5 days before murder of Seth Rich

GREATEST HITS, 20 — The McCain-Soros connection: How it started

GREATEST HITS, 19 — ‘Shattered’: expose reveals Russian ‘narrative’ was spun within hours of Trump win

GREATEST HITS, 18: Ten terrorists who took advantage of the porous U.S.-Mexico border

GREATEST HITS, 17: India defies missile-exporting China with cruise missile sale to Vietnam

GREATEST HITS, 16: The GOP is dead, and the ‘Uni-party’ rules

GREATEST HITS, 15: Mugabe breaks down in tears, steps down after 37 years ruling Zimbabwe

GREATEST HITS, 14: Trump is morally unfit, say Hollywood stars who passionately defended child rapist Polanski

GREATEST HITS, 13: Church in revolt at pope’s ‘blessing’ of Islam’s expansion in Europe

GREATEST HITS, 12: Obama now heads a 501(c)(4) dedicated to keeping Trump in its crosshairs

GREATEST HITS, 11: Election software firm confirms Venezuela altered outcome by one million votes

GREATEST HITS, 10: Swedish police admit refugee crime wave is out of their control

GREATEST HITS, 9: Documents appear to implicate State Dept. in cover-up on Clinton emails

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