Updated Oct 1, 2022 - Politics & Policy

National Archives tells Congress some Trump admin records still unaccounted for

National Archives building in Washington, D.C.

National Archives and Records Administration. Photo: Sarah Silbiger for The Washington Post via Getty Images

The National Archives and Records Administration told the House Oversight Committee in a letter released Saturday that some Trump administration records have yet to be recovered.

Why it matters: The disclosure comes as Trump's legal team and the Justice Department wage a protracted legal battle over the ex-president's alleged possession of documents he was meant to turn over to the Archives upon leaving office.

  • The Archives didn't speak to whether any of the missing documents they referenced are in Trump's possession, citing the DOJ's probe into the matter.

Driving the news: In a letter to Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) dated Sept. 30, acting Archivist Debra Steidel Wall wrote, "While there is no easy way to establish absolute accountability, we do know that we do not have custody of everything we should."

  • Wall specifically cited official business that was conducted "using non-official electronic messaging accounts that were not copied or forwarded into their official electronic messaging accounts" as an area of particular concern.
  • "NARA has been able to obtain such records from a number of former officials and will continue to pursue the return of similar types of Presidential records from former officials," Wall said.
  • The letter comes in response to a Sept. 13 letter Maloney sent to Wall seeking an "urgent review" of "whether presidential records remain unaccounted for and potentially in the possession of the former president.”

Yes, but: Wall deferred to the DOJ to answer questions about documents Trump personally took from the White House.

  • "With respect to the second issue concerning whether former President Trump has surrendered all presidential records, we respectfully refer you to the Department of Justice in light of its ongoing investigation," she wrote to Maloney.
  • Maloney had asked in her Sept. 13 letter for the Archives to seek a "personal certification from Donald Trump that he has surrendered all presidential records that he illegally removed from the White House."

What they're saying: "The National Archives has confirmed to the Oversight Committee that they still have not received all presidential records from the Trump White House," Maloney said in a statement about the letter.

  • "I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure that all presidential records from the Trump White House are returned to the custody of the government and to make sure these abuses never happen again.”

What we're watching: Wall said the Archives will consult with the DOJ on whether to "initiate an action for the recovery of records unlawfully removed" – as in the case of the DOJ's lawsuit against former White House adviser Peter Navarro in August.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional information throughout.

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