Archives Is Unsure Whether Trump Surrendered All Records, Panel Says

In a letter, the chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee said the National Archives told her staff it was still not certain whether all presidential records had been returned.

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Archives Is Unsure Whether Trump Surrendered All Records, Panel Says |

Representative Carolyn B. Maloney requested a formal assessment from the National Archives of what presidential records, if any, removed from the White House by former President Donald J. Trump remained unaccounted for.

WASHINGTON — The National Archives has informed congressional aides that it is still unsure whether former President Donald J. Trump has surrendered all the presidential records he removed from the White House, even after months of negotiations, a subpoena and a search of his Florida property, according to the House Oversight Committee.

The archives staff “recently informed the committee that the agency is not certain whether all presidential records are in its custody,” Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York and the chairwoman of the committee, wrote in a letter on Tuesday to Debra Steidel Wall, the acting national archivist.

Ms. Maloney said the archives staff had informed the committee staff during a call in late August of its uncertainty about the status of the material, which Mr. Trump was required by law to return.

In her letter, Ms. Maloney requested a formal assessment from the archives of what presidential records, if any, removed from the White House by Mr. Trump remained unaccounted for and whether the archives believed they were potentially still in his possession.

The committee is requesting that the agency “conduct an urgent review of presidential records from the Trump administration to identify any presidential records or categories of presidential records, whether textual or electronic, that NARA has reason to believe may still be outside of the agency’s custody and control,” Ms. Maloney wrote, referring to the National Archives and Records Administration. “Please also assess any other limitations on the completeness, accuracy and accessibility of presidential records provided to NARA by the Trump administration.”

  • Special Master: A judge granted former President Donald J. Trump’s request for an independent arbiter, known as a special master, to review the documents that the F.B.I. seized from Mar-a-Lago. The ruling surprised experts and could slow the investigation.
  • Justice Dept. Response: The Justice Department asked the judge to hold off on enacting key parts of her order, including a temporary ban on its ability to access classified documents seized from Mr. Trump’s home. Lawyers for Mr. Trump have asked the judge to deny the agency’s request.
  • A Proposed Candidate: The Justice Department said that it was open to accepting one of Mr. Trump’s picks for the job of special master: Judge Raymond J. Dearie of the Federal District Court in Brooklyn.
  • Judge Aileen Cannon: The judge who granted the special master request was appointed by Mr. Trump. Her decision in the case is her first prominent ruling in a short judicial career.

The letter asked the archives to complete an initial assessment and provide its findings to the committee by Sept. 27.

Ms. Maloney also requested that the archives “seek a personal certification from Donald Trump that he has surrendered all presidential records that he illegally removed from the White House after leaving office.”

The archives confirmed on Tuesday that it had received the letter but declined to comment further.

The federal government tried and failed for more than a year and a half to retrieve classified and sensitive documents from Mr. Trump before resorting on Aug. 8 to a search of his Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago, according to government documents and statements by his lawyers.

Two months before the search, Mr. Trump’s lawyer certified that all documents bearing classified markings had been returned and that no “copy, written notation or reproduction of any kind was retained.”

Yet the F.B.I. search revealed that the former president continued to possess more than 11,000 government records, including more than 100 with classified markings and documents with the highest classification markings — related to human intelligence sources. There were also additional classified documents in Mr. Trump’s office desk drawer.

The search also turned up 48 folders with classified markings that were empty. Although it is unclear why they were empty, the committee said, the apparent separation of classified material and presidential records from their designated folders raised questions about how the materials were stored and whether sensitive material might have been lost or obtained by third parties.

“In light of revelations that Mr. Trump’s representatives misled investigators about his continued possession of government property and that material found at his club included dozens of ‘empty folders' for classified material,” Ms. Maloney wrote, “I am deeply concerned that sensitive presidential records may remain out of the control and custody of the U.S. government.”


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