The National Archives has reportedly asked the Justice Department to probe former President Trump’s handling of White House records, following reports of the former president’s unusual and potentially unlawful treatment of presidential records, according to the Washington Post.
The request was issued days after the Post reported that Trump was able to take at least 15 boxes of White House records, that he was supposed to give to the National Archives, to his Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida instead of handing them over.
It also follows the Post’s report on the National Archives’ confirmation that some records turned over from the Trump White House “included paper records that had been torn up” and taped back together.
Trump’s defiance of guidelines under the Presidential Records Act has drawn scrutiny from archives officials who suspect that the former president possibly violated laws by mishandling government documents. According to the Post, archives officials reached out to the Justice Department in light of their concerns.
Two sources involved with the politically sensitive request told the Post that discussions on the matter remained preliminary, and it has not been determined whether the Justice Department would investigate. Additionally, the department might potentially be interested in reclaiming classified materials.
News of the former president’s unusual habits first emerged in a Politico report in 2018. During his time in office, Trump ripped presidential records into shreds and threw them on the floor, which reportedly caused headaches for records management analysts who would use Scotch tape to piece together fragments of paper that were sometimes as as small as confetti.
Renewed concerns of the former president’s handling of government documents, including those that may be classified, come amid the Jan. 6 Select Committee’s investigation. The committee is looking through records from the National Archives to investigate Trump and his allies’ involvement in the Capitol insurrection last year.
The National Archives’ request to the DOJ also comes days after House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) vowed to investigate how Trump got away with taking at least 15 boxes of White House records, that he was supposed to give to the National Archives, to his Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida instead.
The Archives later confirmed to the Post that they recovered Trump’s self-described “love letters” from North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Additionally, the Archives reportedly retrieved former President Barack Obama’s departing message to Trump as well as the infamous Hurricane Dorian forecast map that Trump drew a bubble on with a Sharpie to back up his false claim about the hurricane hitting Alabama.
Trump maintained that he had engaged in “collaborative and respectful” discussions with the Archives and had arranged for the “transport of boxes that contained Presidential Records in compliance with the Presidential Records Act” in a statement issued Wednesday to the Post.
The former president reportedly accused the media of falsely characterizing his relationship with NARA, saying that it was a “great honor” to work with the agency.
“Much of this material will someday be displayed in the Donald J. Trump Presidential Library for the public to view my Administration’s incredible accomplishments for the American People,” Trump said.