The National Archives confirmed on Friday that Donald Trump took classified documents from the White House to Mar-a-Lago when he left office
The National Archives confirmed on Friday that Donald Trump took classified documents from the White House to Mar-a-Lago when he left office.
The agency has informed Congress and is now in talks with the Justice Department about an investigation after the sensitive material was found in 15 boxes seized from his Florida home.
‘Because NARA identified classified information in the boxes, NARA staff has been in communication with the Department of Justice,’ said the letter, written by David S. Ferriero, the national archivist, to Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney.
Ferriero has also said that White House staffers conducted official business using ‘non-official electronic messaging accounts that were not copied or forwarded into their official electronic messaging accounts’.
It said it had already retrieved or was in the process of retrieving ‘some’ of those records.
Such record-keeping has flared up repeatedly in recent years, and Hillary Clinton’s use of private email was a driving element of Trump’s 2016 campaign.
It is the latest in a series of revelations in the past two weeks about Trump’s handling of files when he left office, including claims he stuffed documents down the White House toilet and got the Pentagon to incinerate papers.
The archivist said NARA had contacted the White House counsel in 2018 following a press report about Trump tearing up records.
The counsel’s office responded that the matter was ‘being addressed.’
After the end of the Trump Administration, it learned that ‘additional paper records that had been torn up by former President Trump were included in the records transferred to us.’
‘Although White House staff during the Trump Administration recovered and taped together some of the torn-up records, a number of other torn-up records that were transferred had not been reconstructed by the White House,’ according to the letter.
Among the other items the National Archives retrieved from Mar-a-Lago is the infamous hurricane map that the president allegedly scrawled on with a Sharpie pen to expand its possible path.
Another keepsake that a source told the Post had been removed was a mini replica of Air Force One that Trump proudly displayed in the Oval Office, after involving himself in details of a redesign all the way down to a paint job.
A former aide said Trump displayed at Mar-a-Lago a ‘mini replica of one of the black border-wall slats’ that Trump helped design for his border wall.
There are laws governing the removal of classified material – however the president also has unilateral authority to declassify information, leading to a potentially murky area.
The National Archives said it had ‘ongoing conversations’ with Trump before retrieving the 15 boxes of material.
It said it expects to complete an inventory by Feb. 25th.
On Thursday, President Biden rejected another executive privilege claim by Trump to withhold the White House visitor logs from the House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot.
In a letter sent to the National Archives on Tuesday, Biden’s White House Counsel Dana Remus told the archivist of the U.S. David Ferriero the agency should provide the material to the panel within 15 days.
Former President Trump is attempting to invoke executive privilege to keep the panel from obtaining the logs, just as he did with other White House documents that were turned over to the committee earlier this month.
Ferriero wrote a letter to Trump Wednesday informing him that he would be cooperating with the White House’s request that the logs be released to the panel within 15 days.
People wait for a moving van after boxes of papers and materials were moved out of the Eisenhower Executive Office building inside the White House complex on January 14, 2021
The National Archives retrieved 15 boxes of documents from Mar-a-Lago, where former President Donald Trump has offices and where he resides. Included was an infamous ‘sharpie’ map with the track of approaching Hurricane Dorian in 2019
One item that reportedly made its way to Mar-a-Lago is a mini replica of a redesigned Air Force One that Trump used to display in the Oval Office
The National Archives confirmed that it recovered classified material from Mar-a-Lago
The letter also confirmed that President Trump had ‘torn up’ paper records
The newly torn up records had not been taped back together
The Archives confirmed that former President Trump ripped up documents
‘After consultation with the Counsel to the President and the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel, and as instructed by President Biden, I have determined to disclose to the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol (‘Select Committee’) the Presidential records from our January 14, 2022, Notification that you identified as privileged in your letter of January 31, 2022,’ he wrote.
He added: ‘[T]o ensure that personal privacy information is not inadvertently disclosed, the Select Committee has agreed to accept production of these records with birthdates and social security numbers removed.’
Trump could try to block or slow the release of the logs like he did with other White House documents and materials.
Remus requested the logs be turned over in 15 days ‘in light of the urgency’ of the committee’s probe and insisted ‘Congress has a compelling need’ for the National Archives to disclose the documents.
‘Constitutional protections of executive privilege should not be used to shield, from Congress or the public, information that reflects a clear and apparent effort to subvert the Constitution itself,’ Remus wrote to the Archives.