The National Archives suspect that former President Donald Trump could still be retaining documents that should have been turned over to the archives, according to a letter from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) indicated in the letter, which was sent to National Archives (NARA) archivist Debra Steidel Wall, that “NARA’s staff recently informed the Committee that the agency is not certain whether all presidential records are in its custody.”
Maloney expressed concerns that the former president failed to hand over all of the documents in his possession on three separate occasions: at the conclusion of his term as president, after receiving a request from NARA in May of 2021, and after receiving a grand jury subpoena in May 2022.
The committee also urged NARA to seek “written certification that [Trump] has surrendered all presidential records or classified materials, has not made any copies or reproductions of such materials, and has not transferred any records or government documents to any party other than NARA or DOJ since his term ended.”
The National Archives have been a key party operating in the background of the investigation into potential misconduct by Trump in his retention of hundreds of documents, many of them classified, after his departure from the presidency. NARA had been engaged in protracted negotiations to retrieve the material the former president transported to Mar-a-Lago since May 2021.
In January of this year, NARA retrieved 15 boxes from Mar-a-Lago, and contacted the Justice Department after identifying an extensive amount of classified material in the recovered documents. Following the February referral to the DOJ, Rep. Maloney wrote a letter expressing her committee’s concern that “former President Trump may have violated the law through his intentional efforts to remove and destroy records that belong to the American people.”
In June, lawyers facilitating negotiations between Trump, NARA, and the Justice Department, signed an attestation that, to the best of their knowledge, all classified materials had been removed from Mar-a-Lago and surrendered to the Justice Department. Weeks later, the FBI would recover almost 200 documents with classification markings in a raid of Trump’s residence.
Trump is relying on a dubious claim that he declassified all the materials while he was president, and that no misconduct took place. The former president and the Justice Department are currently embroiled in a legal back-and-forth over whether federal investigators can even proceed with the case. Earlier this month, Judge Aileen Cannon authorized Trump’s request to have a “special master” review the trove of documents retrieved in the Aug. 8 raid, and establish any disputes over presidential privilege.