Clinton On His Records

A long, and not unpersuasive explanation from President Clinton about the Little Rock library and his records, from an interview Mr. Clinton gave to C-SPAN.

CLINTON: First of all, since this law that we’re operating under now has been in effect – that is, from President Reagan forward – I have worked to release more records more quickly than anybody else.

I want this stuff out there.

Some of it may be misused, and some people may want it for reasons that are not entirely academic, but that’s OK. I want the records out there.

I wanted to give all of my records to the 9/11 Commission. I wanted all the support necessary. And we kept meticulous records, and I wanted to give it to them.

The public has to know, they’re not my records. They belong to, and under the jurisdiction of the Archives. But I have the power to keep all of them closed for 12 years. I didn’t do that. We’ve released about a million pages already.

I want to push the release of more, including the request for documents about Hillary’s time in the White House. They’ll show how hard she worked on a wide variety of issues, and what she did in her travels around the world to advance America’s cause. So, I’d like it if the records got out there.

But there are certain rules the Archives has about reviewing them. Then they have to go to the – then we review them. And then the White House has requested the right to review some of them. Now, they’re being pretty good now, the White House is, about letting them out.

The Archives has some rules. They have a strict first-come, first-served policy. And they also, when they send us documents, they won’t release them until we review them all.

So, for example, the other day – as soon as this controversy arose, Bruce Lindsey, who has other things to do, had 26,000 pages of documents to review. He had already reviewed 20,000.

So, he said, “Let’s give the people 20,000 documents.”

And the Archives said, “No. We don’t release one page until you get all 26,000.”

I don’t know why that’s their policy.

But we have asked them – I have asked them already on two occasions if they would speed up a particular release, and they declined to do so. That’s OK. But the American public just needs to know, we’re getting this stuff out as soon as we can.

There was a request, I think, for all of Hillary’s schedules. And I think that’ll be out sometime in January.

But someone literally has to review all that. I don’t think people understand how time consuming it is.

For example, on her schedule, if there is an advance person – as there was, you know – let’s say she represents America in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, in my first term, each one of those places where she stopped, there was an advance person.

If there was a private cell phone number there, the archivist has to go through and mark that out for privacy reasons, just on the off chance that they still have the same cell phone number.

If there were the names of Secret Service agents or a list in questionable places of how many agents were there, they mark that out so they won’t be giving deployment information.

Those are their rules, not mine. And I get why they do it.

But we’re not trying to hold up anything. I am pushing this faster than any of my predecessors since the new law has been enacted.