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National Archives says Trump White House records still missing

Oct. 1, 2022 Updated Sat., Oct. 1, 2022 at 8:58 p.m.

President Donald Trump speaks during the White House Conference on American History at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 17, 2020.  (TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE)
President Donald Trump speaks during the White House Conference on American History at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 17, 2020. (TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE)
By Billy House Bloomberg News

The National Archives said it still doesn’t have all of the records from White House staffers that it should have received at the end of former President Donald Trump’s administration and will continue to pursue missing material.

“While there is no easy way to establish absolute accountability, we do know that we do not have custody of everything we should,” Debra Steidel Wall, the Acting Archivist of the United States, said in a letter dated Friday to Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York.

On whether Trump himself has surrendered all of his presidential records besides those already turned over or seized by authorities from his Florida estate, Wall “respectfully” referred Maloney to the U.S. Justice Department, citing its pending investigation.

Maloney, chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, asked the National Archives and Records Administration on Sept. 13 to review whether it has obtained the complete collection of Trump administration records and report back.

In a response Saturday to Wall’s letter, Maloney said, “Presidential records are the property of the American people, and it is outrageous that these records remain unaccounted for 20 months after former President Trump left office.”

The Presidential Records Act mandates that all presidential records must be properly preserved by each administration so that a complete set is transferred to the National Archives at the end of an administration.

Wall said the Archives “has identified” that some members of the Trump White House staff conducted official business using non-official electronic messaging accounts that were not copied or forwarded into their official electronic messaging accounts, as required by that act. She did not identify the staffers.

“NARA has been able to obtain such records from a number of former officials and will continue to pursue the return of similar types of Presidential records from former officials,” she wrote.

Wall said the agency will consult with DOJ on whether “to initiate an action for the recovery of records unlawfully removed,” as established under the Federal Records Act. She cited a DOJ lawsuit in August against former Trump White House trade adviser Peter Navarro seeking the return of his official email records from his personal email account.

FBI agents searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida in August, seizing some two dozen boxes of documents he hadn’t returned to the National Archives after months of negotiations. Those boxes contained highly classified material, including some marked with the highest rating, TS/SCI, or “Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information.”

Maloney, in her statement Saturday, said she’ll do what she can to ensure that all of the Trump White House’s presidential records return to the custody of the government “and to make sure these abuses never happen again.”

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