Fifteen boxes of White House records, likely sent to former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in early 2021, were retrieved by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
NARA spokesperson and Archivist David Ferriero reported the retrieval of the documents on Monday. According to the Washington Post, Ferriero said that all Presidential records are to be handed over to the National Archives office directly from the White House when a President leaves office. Trump’s failure to do so violates the Presidential Records Act.
Several correspondences between Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, are included in the trove of documents seized. According to the Washington Post, Trump described those communications as “love letters,” a Trumpist-phrase designed to highlight how his relationship with Jong Un was better than the current or previous administration.
Also among the documents is a lengthy letter from outgoing President Barack Obama to the incoming President Trump.
Representatives for Trump note that they cooperated with NARA’s document request, will continue to search for and return any additional files located, and, according to the Washington Post, deny “there was any nefarious intent behind the improper transfer of White House records to Mar-a-Lago.”
Skeptics are quick to point out that Trump sued to block NARA representatives from accessing White House records related to the Jan. 6 protest and breach of the Capitol. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Trump’s request, forcing the release of more than 700 pages of documents in Jan 2021.
Some suggest the fifteen boxes of records kept at Mar-a-Largo represent an attempt to prevent further access to sensitive documents.
The New York Post also reports that some of the documents turned over were damaged. Some were reportedly “ripped up or shredded.” This is particularly concerning to The House Select Committee, which has requested access to all records as part of its investigation into the Jan. 6 protest and breach of the Capitol.
One archives official noted that most past administrations violate the Presidential Records Act in some way, and that generally, NARA and former Presidents interact on the basis of a “gentlemen’s agreement.” The official noted that the agency’s enforcement ability is limited.
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