The National Archives and Records Administration says presidential records recently retrieved from former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida were marked as classified national security information.
David Ferriero, the archivist of the United States, said in a letter to Congress on Friday that because the information marked as classified was removed from the White House, the Justice Department has been notified.
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Presidential records in 15 boxes, which federal officials took from the Mar-a-Lago resort in January, were not given to the National Archives as required by the Presidential Records Act, the agency said. The National Archives has asked representatives of Trump to continue the search for more presidential documents, Ferriero said.
Ferriero did not elaborate on how many items were found marked as "classified national security information" and said the National Archives has been working on inventorying the new materials it received from Trump. The boxes contained mementos from Trump's White House days, such as letters from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and former President Barack Obama, according to the Washington Post.
Ferriero's letter came in response to questions from New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney, chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, who asked about the materials the National Archives recently recovered from Mar-a-Lago. At one point, Maloney asked if the National Archives was aware of Trump destroying records during his time in the White House. There have been multiple reports that Trump ripped up documents during his time in office. One report suggested he may have flushed documents down a White House toilet. Trump denied doing so.
"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. NARA sent a letter to the Deputy Counsel to the President asking for information about the extent of the problem and how it is being addressed," Ferriero said. "Although White House staff during the Trump Administration recovered and taped together some of the torn-up records, a number of other torn-up records that were transferred had not been reconstructed by the White House."
Ferriero said the National Archives has identified some records from the Trump White House that are not in its possession. He said the agency found social media records that were not preserved by the Trump administration and learned that members of the Trump administration conducted official business on "non-official electronic messaging accounts" that were not preserved. He said the agency is trying to acquire some of those records.
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The Justice Department did not respond to the Washington Examiner's request for comment. Trump responded in a statement released by his Save America PAC on Friday evening.
"The National Archives did not 'find' anything, they were given, upon request, Presidential Records in an ordinary and routine process to ensure the preservation of my legacy and in accordance with the Presidential Records Act. If this was anyone but 'Trump,' there would be no story here. Instead, the Democrats are in search of their next Scam," Trump said.
He also said, "The Fake News is making it seem like me, as the President of the United States, was working in a filing room."
The National Archives's referral led to internal discussions about how the department should proceed, sources told the Washington Post. Trump turned the documents over to the National Archives to comply with the Presidential Records Act of 1978, which requires presidential administrations to preserve documents. There are no clear penalties for presidents that violate the law, but there are different laws that govern the handling of classified information.
The Trump administration's handling of documents has reportedly affected the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot. A source told the Washington Post, the committee sought documents about efforts to put pressure on then-Vice President Mike Pence to decertify the election but discovered the documents no longer existed because they had been shredded. On Wednesday, the Biden administration ordered the National Archives to turn over the Trump White House visitor logs to the Jan. 6 committee.