Trump White House documents including Kim Jong-un ‘love letters’ had to be retrieved from Mar-a-Lago

President has fought hard, but unsuccessfully, to keep records away from legal and government scrutiny

Andrew Naughtie
Monday 07 February 2022 23:43 GMT
Mike Pence rejects Donald Trump’s claim he could have overturned the 2020 election
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As the committee investigating the 6 January riot combs through records from the Trump administration, it has emerged that the National Archives recently recovered multiple boxes of official paperwork that Donald Trump had transported to his residence at Mar-a-Lago – including “love letters” between the former president and North Korean despot Kim Jong-un.

According to a report from The Washington Post, the documents were recovered from his Florida encampment last month, raising further concerns about Mr Trump’s potential violation of the Presidential Records Act – legislation that requires administrations to preserve almost all documentation produced and circulated during a president’s time in office.

The agency later clarified the Post’s reporting on Monday, stating that more boxes were removed in January and that Mr Trump’s team remains actively searching for more records.

The ex-president’s team “have informed NARA that they are continuing to search for additional Presidential records”, said the National Archives in a statement.

As multiple outlets have reported, the committee scrutinising the Trump White House’s behaviour between the 2020 election and the 6 January insurrection is confronted by the difficult fact that the former president would often attempt to physically destroy documents that legally needed to be preserved, in the process obliging his staff to tape shards of paper back together as best they could.

As the Post reports, among the papers and items retrieved were not just the correspondence with Kim but also a letter from President Barack Obama left for Mr Trump when he took office.

The news of the Mar-a-Lago document cache comes after the 6 January committee made a major legal breakthrough in obtaining reams of paperwork and communications records that Mr Trump insisted were covered by “executive privilege”.

The former president has unsuccessfully cited the legal principle in court many times as a means of keeping his affairs hidden from scrutiny, but sitting President Joe Biden has declined to extend the privilege to the records his predecessor is sensitive about.

Recent weeks have seen the official wing of the Republican Party further endorse Mr Trump’s preferred (and ever-shifting) narrative of the events of 6 January, with the RNC formally censuring select committee members Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for their participation in the inquiry in a motion that also said those who joined the riot were engaged in “legitimate political discourse”.

Even some elected Republicans who have stood by Mr Trump took exception to this language. At the same time, Mike Pence insisted to a Federalist Society dinner that he had no power to overturn the election result, going so far as to say “President Trump is wrong” – and that there was “no more un-American” an idea than the notion circulated by the president’s advisers that the election result could or should be overturned by the executive branch.

His stand against the former president – which bordered on treason by the party’s current standards – received enthusiastic applause.

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