The White House will not comply with requests to turn over documents related to the bankrupt solar company Solyndra, which received a $535 million loan guarantee from the federal government, CNN learned Friday.
A government source provided a letter that White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler sent to House Energy and Commerce chair Rep. Fred Upton and subcommittee chair Rep. Cliff Stearns Friday afternoon responding to their request for internal White House communications related to the Solyndra loan guarantee.
Solyndra is a California solar panel manufacturer that had received $535 million in federal loan guarantees before it was forced to halt operations and file for bankruptcy at the end of August, putting more than 1,000 workers out of work.
Before its failure, the company had been touted as an example of the benefits of creating green jobs by the Obama administration. But since then, it has become the center of congressional criticism and a probe by the FBI.
Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison resigned Wednesday.
Citing precedent, the president's legal counsel is refusing to hand over all internal White House communications related to the energy firm, including President Obama's Blackberry messages, arguing that the president needs to protect open counsel from advisers and staff.
In part, the letter obtained by CNN says the request "implicates longstanding and significant institutional Executive Branch confidentiality interests. Encroaching upon these important interests is not necessary, however, because the agency documents the Committee has requested, which include communications with the White House, should satisfy the Committee's stated objective – to 'understand the involvement of the White House in the review of the Solyndra loan guarantee and the Administration's support of this guarantee.'"
The letter notes the administration in total has turned over 70,000 pages of documents from the Department of Energy, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Department of the Treasury, and over 900 pages from the White House itself. The letter also says the White House will continue to cooperate with the investigation.