Merrick Garland To Investigate W.H. Docs Taken To Mar-a-Lago

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The Justice Department is beginning to investigate the issue of the more than a dozen boxes of government records that were taken to Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida after his presidency concluded, according to The Washington Post. The records weren’t supposed to be taken there — federal law demands the preservation and eventual transfer to the National Archives of numerous records associated with individual presidential administrations, and the disputed records have since been returned to federal authorities. Among the documents taken to Mar-a-Lago were items identified as top secret and classified — showcasing how Trump and those around him have consistently recklessly disregarded basic legal standards as if they simply don’t apply to them.

The probe by the Justice Department into this situation is, according to the Post, “in the very early stages,” and specific steps including a review of the items taken to Mar-a-Lago and interviews with those with ties to the caches of files could be on the metaphorical horizon, but the Post specifies that it remains unclear whether the Department has undertaken those potential steps. A House Oversight Committee investigation into the matter was also recently kickstarted, although panel chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) raised concerns to the Justice Department this week about the department apparently standing in the way of its probe. The Justice Department has blocked the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) from providing a breakdown to Congressional investigators of what was taken to Mar-a-Lago. “If the department is planning an investigation, that might explain why it would not want lawmakers getting an inventory of the materials,” the Post notes.

Maloney wrote in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland that the oversight panel “does not wish to interfere in any manner with any potential or ongoing investigation by the Department of Justice… However, the Committee has not received any explanation as to why the Department is preventing NARA from providing information to the Committee that relates to compliance with the [Presidential Records Act], including unclassified information describing the contents of the 15 boxes from Mar-a-Lago.” Predictably, the Trump team has resisted the notion that there’s anything improper inherent in what went on. It’s worth noting that the existence of a Justice Department investigation into this matter doesn’t mean that there will be any criminal charges filed in relation to it. Separately, Trump is also continuing to face scrutiny over the Capitol riot and its surrounding circumstances — a federal judge concluded he’d likely (although not certainly) committed felony offenses amid his attempts to stay in power, but it remains unclear what action that the Justice Department might take on that front.