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The Associated Press October 28, 2011, 2:45PM ET

House panel may subpoena White House documents

A House committee could meet as early as Thursday to vote on a subpoena demanding White House records relating to a half-billion dollar federal loan to a California solar company that went bankrupt.

The Republican-controlled panel asked this month for documents that might shed light on actions by White House officials in connection with the original loan to Solyndra Inc. as well as a restructuring of the deal that took place earlier this year.

The Obama administration has released thousands of emails -- but withheld thousands more -- concerning a $528 million loan made by the Department of Energy to Solyndra Inc., a now-bankrupt solar panel maker. To date, the administration says it has produced 70,000 pages, participated in nine briefings for congressional committee staff and provided testimony at four House committee hearings.

Additionally, the White House has produced 900 pages of documents reflecting communications between the White House and Solyndra.

The White House has refused a request by the House Energy and Commerce Committee for all internal White House communications about Solyndra.

White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler said the committee leaders' request has implications for "long-standing and significant institutional executive branch confidentiality interests."

The White House also said it would not release President Barack Obama's BlackBerry messages -- which if released would be a presidential first. Obama fought to use the BlackBerry to keep in touch with senior staff and some personal friends. Previous presidents chose not to use email because it can be subpoenaed by Congress and the courts, and may be subject to public records laws.

Any subpoena of White House records could trigger a claim of executive privilege by the Obama administration and elevate the political stakes, although the issue could also be resolved through negotiations.

The loan is being investigated by two House committees, which have released Solyndra-related documents from federal agencies including the Energy and Treasury departments and the Office of Management and Budget.

Solyndra is under criminal investigation by the FBI. Inspectors general at the U.S. Treasury and the Energy Department also are investigating.


AP Special Correspondent David Espo contributed to this story.

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