Donald Trump has been caught in a potential crime, which he’s responded to in typical fashion: by accusing his enemies of being even more guilty of the potentially illegal act — in this case mishandling presidential documents after leaving the White House. The latest example came on Sunday, when at a rally in Arizona Trump alleged George H.W. Bush took “millions” of documents to a “a bowling alley slash Chinese restaurant” with a “broken front door.”
Trump also claimed that Bill Clinton took documents to a car dealership in Arkansas, that George W. Bush took documents to a warehouse in Texas, and that Barack Obama took them to a facility in Chicago.
The National Archives (NARA) released a statement on Tuesday noting that, in accordance with the Presidential Records Act, it took control of presidential documents and stored them in secure facilities near the locations of the future libraries of the former presidents Trump has accused of mishandling documents. NARA added that allegations to the contrary are “false and misleading.”
Trump had previously alleged Obama mishandled documents, prompting NARA to release a series of statements debunking Trump and others who were drumming up conspiracy theories about Trump’s predecessor.
“NARA moved approximately 30 million pages of unclassified records to a NARA facility in the Chicago area where they are maintained exclusively by NARA,” the Archives wrote on Aug. 12, days after the FBI recovered around 200 classified documents from Mar-a-Lago. “Additionally, NARA maintains the classified Obama Presidential records in a NARA facility in the Washington, D.C., area. As required by the [Presidential Records Act], former President Obama has no control over where and how NARA stores the Presidential records of his Administration.”
Trump hasn’t only been conspiracy theorizing about former presidents improperly handling records. He’s also been pushing lies about NARA. He alleged on Truth Social last month that NARA put a “harmful content warning” on the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights. In reality, NARA’s website features a blanket “potentially harmful content” warning, because, according to NARA, “some of the materials presented here may reflect outdated, biased, offensive, and possibly violent views and opinions.”
Trump added on Truth Social that NARA is controlled by the “radical left” and that it is “wrongfully complaining about me.”
NARA might not be done with Trump, either. Democrats on the House Oversight Committee revealed last month that the Archives believes the former president may still be hoarding documents at Mar-a-Lago. It was reported last week that the Justice Department has similar suspicions.