I don’t want to expend too much thought on what a lying sack of crap the White House is regarding all those missing e-mails of theirs, but let me just say this: I have in my personal possession about 60,000 e-mails dating all the way back to January 9, 1996, so if you’re a real live person and you’ve sent me e-mail since that date, the chances are pretty good I’ve got a record of it somewhere in my database (minus the occasional accidental deletion during a spam sweep). And I’m not actually required by federal law to keep a record.
Now, you may ask, why do I have nearly every single e-mail I’ve been sent in the last nine and a half years? Aside for the desire to pass on my hard drives to the University of Chicago archives after my death, because I’m absolutely certain future scholars will want to read all my e-mails from over the years trying to coordinate restaurant plans with my friends, it may be because one really has to go out of one’s way to delete them. You really have to actively and affirmatively decide to delete mails once you’ve pulled them off a server and put them into a e-mail reader. Even when you’re not actually required by federal law not to delete them.