WASHINGTON — The 15 boxes of White House records that were stored in former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence contained items marked as classified national security information, the National Archives and Records Administration said Friday. . The agency said the case had been referred to the Justice Department.
In response to a Feb. 9 letter from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, the National Archives confirmed reports that Trump took government records with him to Florida after leaving office in January 2021.
The agency’s letter confirms numerous reports of Trump’s handling of sensitive and even classified information during his tenure as president and after his departure from the White House. The revelation could also be of interest to federal investigators overseeing the handling of government secrets, although the Justice Department and the FBI have not indicated they will prosecute.
Federal law prohibits the removal of classified documents to unauthorized locations, though it’s possible Trump could try to argue that as president he was the ultimate declassification authority.
Regardless of the legal risk, it exposes him to charges of hypocrisy given his relentless attacks during the 2016 presidential campaign against Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton for using a private email server as secretary. of state. The FBI investigated but ultimately did not recommend charges.
The archivists’ letter also details how certain social media records were not captured and retained by the Trump administration. And that the agency learned that White House staff frequently conducted official business using unofficial email accounts and home phones.
These staffers did not copy or forward their official message counts, as required by the Presidential Records Act. The letter also goes on to reveal that after Trump left the White House, the National Archives learned that additional paper documents that had been torn up by the former president had been transferred to the agency.
“Although White House staff during the Trump administration recovered and saved some of the torn tapes, a number of other torn tapes that were transferred have not been reconstructed by the White House,” the letter continued. .
Lawmakers are also seeking information about the contents of the boxes recovered from Mar-a-Lago, but the agency cited the documents as preventing them from disclosing.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, DN.Y., chair of the House Oversight Committee, said in a statement Friday that “these new revelations deepen my concern about former President Trump’s blatant disregard for federal records law. and the potential impact on our historical record.”
She added, “I am committed to uncovering the full depth of violations of the Presidential Records Act by former President Trump and his top advisers and to using those findings to advance critical reforms and prevent future abuses. “
The Washington Post first reported that the archivist asked the Justice Department to investigate the discovery of 15 boxes of White House files recovered from Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach. , Florida, and that the former president used to be in power. to rip records that are both “sensitive and banal”.
House investigators will investigate whether Trump’s actions, both during his presidency and after, violated the Presidential Records Act, enacted in 1978 after former President Richard Nixon sought to destroy documents related to the Watergate scandal.
The law states that presidential records are the property of the US government, rather than the president himself. A law, punishable by up to three years in prison, makes it a crime to intentionally conceal or destroy government documents.
Associated Press writer Eric Tucker contributed to this report.
startribune Gt Itly