National Archives requests DOJ to probe Trump's handling of White House records

The National Archives has asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to look into former President Trump's handling of White House records since leaving office, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday, amid revelations in recent days that he had retained official documents that should have been turned over.

According to the Post, the National Archives' referral has prompted internal discussions among federal prosecutors about potentially investigating whether Trump committed a crime in not properly turning over the records.

It's reportedly unclear whether the DOJ will mount such an investigation.

Neither the National Archives nor the Justice Department immediately responded when asked for comment.

The Post reported earlier this week that Archives officials recovered 15 boxes of documents from Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate last month that the former president was legally required to turn over upon leaving office. And according to various news reports in recent years, Trump had a habit of tearing up documents that were supposed to be preserved.

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.

Still, some of Trump's critics have been demanding that the DOJ scrutinize the matter. This week, the liberal watchdog Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington and the National Security Archives, a government transparency organization, wrote to the Justice Department and the FBI calling for an investigation.

In their letter, the groups said that it's especially important that Trump administration records be preserved in light of the investigations into the former president's handling of the Capitol riot last year.

"Revelations over the course of the past year have shed greater light on the role former President Trump played in seeking to overturn the results of a free and fair election," the letter reads. "To ensure that such attacks on the foundation of our democracy are never repeated there must be full and public accounting of Trump’s role in the insurrection of January 6, 2021, and the roles of those who aided and abetted him. But without a full historical record, unimpeded by the former president’s willful destruction and mutilation of his presidential records, full accountability may escape us."

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