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DoJ refusal to share Trump’s Mar-a-Lago classified documents with Congress suggests issue is under investigation

House Oversight chair says Justice Department ‘is obstructing Committee’s investigation’

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Thursday 07 April 2022 18:20 BST
Related video: Jan. 6 Panel Puts Garland In ‘Precarious’ Spot, Ups Pressure

The Department of Justice has blocked the National Archives from sharing information with Congress concerning 15 boxes of classified information, including information the archives retrieved from former President Donald Trump’s private Florida club Mar-a-Lago after he left the White House.

It’s the clearest suggestion so far that the issue is under investigation, CNN noted.

The House Oversight Committee released a letter on Thursday in which Archives General Counsel Gary Stern said that the agency couldn’t respond to the committee’s request for further details following a “consultation” with DoJ. The panel is conducting its own investigation into the boxes found at Mr Trump’s residence.

After getting the letter from the National Archives on 28 March, House Oversight Committee Chair and New York Democrat Carolyn Maloney contacted Attorney General Merrick Garland asking for information about why DoJ was blocking the agency from working with the committee.

“I write today because the Department of Justice is preventing NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) from cooperating with the Committee’s request, which is interfering with the Committee’s investigation,” Ms Maloney wrote in a letter on Thursday. “By blocking NARA from producing the documents requested by the Committee, the Department is obstructing the Committee’s investigation.”

She added that the panel “does not wish to interfere in any manner with any potential or ongoing investigation by the Department of Justice”.

The committee is investigating if Mr Trump violated the Presidential Records Act. Ms Maloney has said that DoJ hasn’t provided an explanation as to why they’ve blocked NARA from providing any details.

Prosecutors from DoJ as well as FBI officials review cases when classified material is discovered to have been handled in ways that don’t comply with government standards. Mr Trump moving and storing classified information at his Florida club appear to have been outside of those guidelines.

DoJ also commonly restricts the information it shares with Congress during an ongoing investigation.

In February, Mr Garland answered questions concerning NARA’s discovery of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, saying that the agency had informed DOJ and that they would “do what we always do under these circumstances: look at the facts and the law and take it from there”.

The Independent has reached out to the Department of Justice for comment.

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