A public records release shed some new light on the FBI’s raid of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, and the 15 boxes of documents that Trump previously provided.
Late Monday, the National Archives and Records Administration released 65 pages in response to a public record request from The Daily Signal, Heritage Oversight Project and other media and watchdog organisations.
The documents referenced North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, Trump’s predecessor in the White House, and lengthy correspondence with archives officials and House Democrats investigating Trump pressing that he be “accountable” for possible violation of the Presidential Records Act, a law that requires presidents leaving office transfer administration records to the National Archives.
Trump was a known owner of classified information. According the information, some documents had been torn up and taped together.
The National Archives used several exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act in order to block the release of nearly 3,000 pages of documents. The reasons for the exemptions included an ongoing Justice Department investigation and the agency’s deliberations with Congress on what to release.
The Heritage Foundation is the parent organization of The Daily Signal. sued the National Archives and the Justice DepartmentAfter the two agencies refused permission to provide public records requests about the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago (August), September was the result.
The documents offered only a glimpse of correspondence between the 45th president and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, Trump’s predecessor in the White House, and lengthy exchanges with archives officials and House Democrats.
Here are six key points from the records.
1. Kim Jong Un Correspondence
Gary Stern, National Archives general counsel, was appointed on May 6, 2021. emailed lawyersAbout obtaining records for those who served in Trump’s White House, Mike Purpura, Patrick Philbin and Scott Gast.
The email said that Gast “has been very helpful” in assisting with social media records from Trump, but noted, “There are also now certain paper/textual records that we cannot account for.”
“For example, the original correspondence between President Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un were not transferred to us; it is our understanding that in January 2021, just prior to the end of the administration, the originals were put in a binder for the president, but were never returned to the Office of Records Management for transfer to NARA,” Stern wrote in the email. “It is essential that these original records be transferred to NARA as soon as possible.”
In 2018, Trump met with Kim to try to persuade the dictator to de-nuclearize.
2. Obama’s Letter for Trump’s First Day
Stern sent the same email to request a letter from Trump from President Barack Obama during the presidential transition.
“Similarly, the letter that President Obama left for President Trump on his first day in office has not been transferred; since that letter was received by President Trump after his term commenced, it is a presidential record – note that all of NARA’s other presidential libraries maintain the original copy of similar letters, and it is necessary that this one be provided to us as well,” Stern wrote in the email to the former Trump presidential lawyers.
Correspondence between presidents such as Trump and Obama could help to add to the historical record.
After negotiations, Trump gave 15 boxes of documents to National Archives in January.
3. House Democrats Hound Archives for Trump
In February, House Democrats began stressing that “Trump and his senior advisors must also be held accountable” for violation of the Presidential Records Act.
Carolyn Maloney, D.N.Y., Chairwoman of House Oversight and Reform Committee, requested more information from the National Archives about documents it received from Trump on February 9.
“The committee is seeking information about the 15 boxes of presidential records that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) recently recovered from former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence,” the Maloney letter to archivist David S. Ferriero says.
“I am deeply concerned that these records were not provided to NARA promptly at the end of the Trump administration and that they appear to have been removed from the White House in violation of the Presidential Records Act,” the letter says.
The Maloney letter was sent two days after The Washington Post reported that Trump had taken 15 boxes of documents from his Mar-a-Lago residence to store.
“Removing or concealing government records is a criminal offense punishable by up to three years in prison,” Maloney wrote. “Former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, for example, was prosecuted for taking classified documents from NARA. Former President Trump and his senior advisors must also be held accountable for any violations of the law.”
Berger, who was President Bill Clinton’s national security adviser, took documents related to the 9/11 Commission investigation.
The letter asked eight additional questions, and gave the respondent until February 18th to answer.
On Feb. 17, House Democrat staffer Krista Boyd asked in an email, “I’m checking in to confirm that NARA will respond to the chairwoman’s letter by tomorrow’s deadline.” National Archives Director of Congressional Affairs John Hamilton responded, “We are working on it, and we hope to have it for you tomorrow.” The next morning, he wrote another email, “I expect to have the letter to you later this afternoon.”
On Feb. 18, 2022, Ferriero, the archivist of the United States, responded to most of the questions, stating in his letter to Maloney, “NARA had ongoing communications with the representatives of former President Trump throughout 2021, which resulted in the transfer of 15 boxes to NARA in January 2022.”
The Presidential Records Act requires that the Presidents who leave office must transfer administrative records to the National Archives.
“With respect to the Trump presidential records, the legal transfer took place on Jan. 20, 2021. However, it is not uncommon for there to be a delay before NARA takes physical custody of all of the records.”
Maloney asked if the agency “conducted an inventory of the contents of the boxes recovered from Mar-a-Lago?” The archivist responded, “NARA is in the process of inventorying the contents of the boxes.”
4. ‘Classified National Security Information’
Maloney’s Feb. 9 letter also asked the question that is key to the FBI’s probe of Trump and the records.
“Are the contents of the boxes of records recovered by NARA undergoing a review to determine if they contain classified information? If so, who is conducting that review and has any classified information been found?”
In the Feb. 18 response letter, Ferriero wrote, “NARA has identified items marked as classified national security information within the boxes.”
He was referring specifically to the information in the 15 boxes containing documents Trump provided in January.
5. Social Media and ‘Electronic Messaging’
Maloney asked if the agency was aware of “additional presidential records from the Trump administration that may be missing or not yet in NARA’s possession.”
The archivist responded, “NARA has identified certain social media records that were not captured and 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 [Presidential Records Act]. NARA has already obtained or is in the process of obtaining some of those records,” he continued.
6. ‘Torn Up’ and ‘Tape Them Back Together’
Ferriero replied to other questions on February 18 and stated that Trump representatives were being asked by the agency for further information about presidential records.
He said that Trump destroyed records while he was president, and that the agency found out through press reports.
“In June 2018, NARA learned from a press report in Politico that textual presidential records were being torn up by former President Trump and that White House staff were attempting to tape them back together,” Ferriero wrote.
NARA wrote to the deputy counsel to ask for information about the issue and the way it is being addressed. The White House counsel’s office indicated that they would address the matter.
NARA discovered that additional papers that were torn up during the Trump administration were part of the records we received after the Trump administration ended. While some records that were torn up by Trump’s administration were taped and recovered by White House staff, many of the other records that were transferred were not reconstructed.
Maloney then sent a letter to Maloney, informing him that the committee would continue its investigation. He also requested more information.
“I am deeply concerned that former President Trump may have violated the law through his intentional efforts to remove and destroy records that belong to the American people,” Maloney wrotein a Feb. 24, letter. “This Committee plans to get to the bottom of what happened and assess whether further action is needed to prevent the destruction of additional presidential records and recover those records that are still missing.”