Trump Hit With Federal Investigation Over W.H. Document Theft

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The House Oversight Committee is investigating a scandal involving the removal of 15 boxes of Trump administration records from D.C. towards the conclusion of Donald’s time in office. The records were taken to — and eventually recovered by federal authorities from — the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida that Trump owns and has spent a considerable deal of his time at since exiting D.C. These incidents appear to reflect violations of the Presidential Records Act, which demands the preservation and delivery to the National Archives of a whole host of records from presidential administrations. Relatedly, Trump has also been reported to have frequently engaged in ripping up various paper documents in an attempt to destroy them — another apparent violation of the law.

Now, Oversight Committee chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) has requested further information regarding these issues from David S. Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States, who heads the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Specifically, Maloney wants details about communications between Ferriero’s agency and the former president’s team about the records that were taken out of D.C. She also wants to know details about which records were actually in limbo during this whole endeavor. As she explained:

‘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 (PRA). I am also concerned by recent reports that while in office, President Trump repeatedly attempted to destroy presidential records, which could constitute additional serious violations of the PRA.’

As a committee press release containing Maloney’s remarks notes, the Presidential Records Act “preserves the records made by a sitting president and his staff, while giving legal ownership of those records to the American people.” Trump’s apparent violations of these legal provisions represent yet another front where the former president and those around them have apparently cast themselves as somehow above the law. As Maloney put it:

‘Former President Trump and his senior advisors must also be held accountable for any violations of the law. Republicans in Congress obsessively investigated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server for official communications.  Former President Trump’s conduct, in contrast, involves a former president potentially violating a criminal law by intentionally removing records, including communications with a foreign leader, from the White House and reportedly attempting to destroy records by tearing them up.’

Notably, officials at the National Archives have actually requested a Justice Department investigation into this matter — suggesting in the meantime that the agency would be inclined towards cooperating with Maloney’s requests for information. As summarized in a report from The Washington Post, “Archives officials suspected Trump had possibly violated laws concerning the handling of government documents — including those that might be considered classified — and reached out to the Justice Department.” The House committee investigating the Capitol riot recently obtained a slew of Trump administration records related to their probe — and discovered certain items to have been apparently torn up and then taped back together. Clearly, there’s a lot going on here.