Trump records retrieved from Mar-a-Lago did contain classified information

The National Archives and Records Administration had recently retrieved 15 boxes from Trump’s residence

Eric Garcia
Friday 18 February 2022 21:00 GMT
Hilary Clinton knocks Donald Trump being in 'trouble'
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The Archivist of the United States confirmed in a letter to Congress on Friday that records retrieved from Trump’s club Mar-a-Lago contained classified information.

Archivist David S Ferriero sent a letter to House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney in response to questions she asked about records seized at Mr Trump’s residence. Earlier this month, the National Archives and Records Administration retrieved 15 boxes from Mar-a-Lago that it said “should have been transferred to NARA from the White House at the end of the Trump Administration in January 2021.”

In her initial letter, Ms Maloney asked if the records NARA retrieved would undergo a review to determine if any of them contained classified information.

“NARA has identified items marked as classified national security information within the boxes,” Mr Ferriero said in his response on Friday.

The 1978 Presidential Records Act deems that White House records the property of the United States government rather than the president of the United States.

The seizure came after a report by The Washington Post that Mr Trump removed 15 boxes of records and sent them to his Florida estate. The records allegedly contained communications between himself and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un as well as the letter former president Barack Obama sent to him.

Mr Ferriero said that NARA had also identified social media records not captured or preserved by the Trump administration.

“NARA has also learned that some White House staff conducted official business using non-official electronic messaging accounts that were not copied or forwarded into their official electronic messaging accounts, as required by section 2209 of the PRA. NARA has already obtained or is in the process of obtaining some of those records,” he wrote.

He also said that because NARA identified classified information in the 15 boxes, it contacted the Department of Justice. Similarly, he noted how media reports from Politico suggested that Mr Trump tore up certain papers.

“The White House Counsel’s Office indicated that they would address the matter,” Mr Ferriero wrote. “After the end of the Trump Administration, NARA learned that additional paper records that had been torn up by former President Trump were included in the records transferred to us. Although White House staff during the Trump Administration recovered and taped together some of the torn-up records, a number of other torn-up records that were transferred had not been reconstructed by the White House.”

At the same time, the Presidential Records Act does not impose criminal penalties for violations, although it could put the former president in violation of other statutes.

Mr Trump for his part has denied any contentious relationship between him and NARA.

“The papers were given easily and without conflict and on a very friendly basis, which is different from the accounts being drawn up by the Fake News Media,” he said. “In fact, it was viewed as routine and "no big deal." In actuality, I have been told I was under no obligation to give this material based on various legal rulings that have been made over the years.”

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