Archives confirms Trump records at Mar-a-Lago included classified documents

Presidential record keepers confirmed Friday that there were classified national security documents among the 15 boxes recently retrieved from Mar-a-Lago as former President Trump has been directed to release his communications to the Jan. 6 House committee.

The statement from the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) comes as the House Oversight Committee last week launched a probe into Trump’s handling of presidential records — and it also confirms the agency has contacted the Justice Department.

“NARA has identified items marked as classified national security information within the boxes,” National Archivist David Ferriero wrote in the letter.

“Because NARA identified classified information in the boxes, NARA staff has been in communication with the Department of Justice.”

The letter says NARA has discovered other instances in which the Trump administration did not follow federal laws for the preservation of records.

“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,” Ferriero said.

The letter comes amid broader questions about Trump’s handling of records, including reports uncovering the January retrieval of the documents and the House Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack in the Capitol receiving some presidential records that had been taped back together after being ripped up.

Ferriero says that NARA warned the Trump administration about tearing up records, only to discover that Trump continued the habit.

“After the end of the Trump Administration, NARA learned that additional paper records that had been torn up by former President Trump were included in the records transferred to us. 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,” he wrote.

The Presidential Records Act (PRA), which requires strict archiving of many White House records, carries a penalty of up to three years in prison and a $2,000 fine.

Even if Trump is found to have held on to official records, it's unclear whether federal prosecutors would be willing to bring charges against him. Such a prosecution would likely be difficult, requiring the DOJ to show that the former president intended to conceal important documents.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who chairs the House Oversight Committee, launched a probe last week after warning as far back as December of 2020 that Trump may not be complying with record keeping laws while noting that ripping up documents “could constitute additional serious violations of the PRA.”

Beyond classified information, Maloney’s letter said boxes reportedly contained correspondence and letters from world leaders and press clippings he may have taken notes on, making them records as well.

Trump has pushed back on assertions he was not complying with record keeping requirements, including reports that he occasionally flushed documents down the toilet.

“The papers were given easily and without conflict and on a very friendly basis, which is different from the accounts being drawn up by the Fake News Media. In fact, it was viewed as routine and ‘no big deal,’” he said upon news of the probe.

“Also, another fake story, that I flushed papers and documents down a White House toilet, is categorically untrue and simply made up by a reporter in order to get publicity for a mostly fictitious book,” he said.

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