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(Video Credit: WPBF 25 News)
Former President Donald Trump handed over 15 boxes of “mementos, gifts, letters from world leaders, and other correspondence” that were being stored at Mar-a-Lago to the National Archives as they requested in January, but the club was not raided and the records were not seized.
Trump’s staff reportedly indicated there was no nefarious intent on the former president’s part for not handing over the boxes earlier and stated they are working with the National Archives to get the matter resolved.
Technically, the storing of the records at Mar-a-Lago is a violation of the Presidential Records Act, which requires all documents and forms of communication that are related to the president’s or vice president’s official duties to be turned over once they leave office.
The Washington Post was the first to report on the matter and the rest of the media ran with it, vying with each other in an attempt to twist the incident entirely out of proportion to make Trump look as bad as possible.
“As required by the Presidential Records Act the records should have been transferred to NARA from the White House at the end of the Trump Administration in January 2021,” the National Archives and Records Administration noted in a statement on Monday.
“In mid-January 2022, NARA arranged for the transport from the Trump Mar-a-Lago property in Florida to the National Archives of 15 boxes that contained Presidential records, following discussions with President Trump’s representatives in 2021,” the National Archives stated.
Full statement from the #NationalArchives to @CBSNews on its continued search for Donald Trump’s presidential records: pic.twitter.com/JPHLRSkBSI
— Jake Rosen (@JakeMRosen) February 7, 2022
The Presidential Records Act “mandates that all Presidential records must be properly preserved by each Administration so that a complete set of Presidential records is transferred to the National Archives at the end of the Administration,” U.S. Archivist David Ferriero commented, according to CNBC. “NARA pursues the return of records whenever we learn that records have been improperly removed or have not been appropriately transferred to official accounts.”
“The Presidential Records Act is critical to our democracy, in which the government is held accountable by the people,” he added.
“Whether through the creation of adequate and proper documentation, sound records management practices, the preservation of records, or the timely transfer of them to the National Archives at the end of an Administration, there should be no question as to need for both diligence and vigilance,” Ferriero declared. “Records matter.”
Trump’s representatives and staff have fully cooperated with the National Archives and are searching for additional records to hand over.
“Throughout the course of the last year, NARA obtained the cooperation of Trump representatives to locate presidential records that had not been transferred to the National Archives at the end of the Trump administration. When a representative informed NARA in December 2021 that they had located some records, NARA arranged for them to be securely transported to Washington. NARA officials did not visit or ‘raid’ the Mar-a-Lago property,” the National Archives told the Palm Beach Daily News on Tuesday.
According to a number of media outlets, the documents handed over include correspondence with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that Trump previously described as “love letters” as well as a letter from former President Barack Obama that was left ahead of Trump’s inauguration.
The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol is vowing to investigate the matter even though it seems to be more of a clerical issue than one involving national security.
“The records’ removal will be investigated,” said House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY). In a statement, she called it “deeply troubling but not surprising.”
Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) told ABC News on Monday that the committee “would not hesitate” to make a criminal referral to the Justice Department if lawmakers determine that Trump willfully violated the Presidential Records Act.
“We will continue to review, and if the review shows that a referral is warranted, we won’t hesitate to do it,” he vowed.
Thompson says “we don’t know exactly what came back yet” from the 15 boxes of Trump records recovered from Mar-a-Lego by Natl Archives
— Scott MacFarlane (@MacFarlaneNews) February 8, 2022
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