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Andrew Harnik / AP

The two top lawmakers on the House Oversight Committee want to know how the Trump administration preserves electronic records. Their requests to White House Counsel Don McGahn — detailed in a letter sent Wednesday — and federal agencies were triggered by two issues:

  • President Trump's use of "at least two Twitter accounts" (the official @POTUS and his longtime handle, @realDonaldTrump) and his penchant for deleting some tweets. The lawmakers said that if those deleted tweets "were not archived it could pose a violation of the Presidential Records Act."
  • The reported use by federal employees of encrypted chat apps "that could result in the creation of presidential or federal records that would be unlikely or impossible to preserve." Confide, Signal and WhatsApp in particular get mentions in the letters. "The need for data security ... does not justify circumventing requirements established by federal recordkeeping and transparency laws," the lawmakers said.

Why this matters: The White House and the federal government are required to preserve records under the law, and new technology raises questions about how those laws should keep up with the times. The Oversight Committee has also been under pressure from liberals to investigate Trump with the same fervor with which it pursued the Obama administration

What's next: The lawmakers, Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz and ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings, ask several questions in their letter to McGahn. Their inquiries focus both on what the White House's policies are for electronic messages and which senior officials who fall under the records law "have used an alias email account to conduct official business since January 20, 2017." They want a response from the White House and the agencies by March 22.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Health

Pfizer-BioNTech: Booster doses more effective at blocking Omicron

Prepared doses of the BioNtech-Pfizer Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Germany on Dec. 7. Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine were significantly less effective at neutralizing the Omicron variant in early lab tests, but a three-dose regimen was more effective.

Why it matters: Omicron, which has been labeled a variant of concern by the World Health Organization after being identified by scientists in South Africa last month, has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines against this specific new form of coronavirus.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Biden unveils "Building a Better America" branding

President Biden speaks on infrastructure while visiting a bridge in Woodstock, N.H., last month. Photo: John Tully/Getty Images

President Biden today launched a new website and unveiled bold new branding as part of a nationwide tour to sell the benefits of his infrastructure package.

Why it matters: The White House says passage of the new law shows the ability to "forge bipartisan consensus and prove our democracy can deliver big wins" even in these toxic times.

3 hours ago - World

Olaf Scholz sworn in as German chancellor, succeeding Merkel

Incoming German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is sworn in by Bundestag President Bärbel Bas in Berlin today. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Social Democrat Olaf Scholz was sworn in as chancellor of Germany on Wednesday, succeeding Angela Merkel after 16 years and launching a new era of German and European politics.

Why it matters: Scholz, a center-left pragmatist who served as finance minister and vice chancellor in Merkel's last government, will lead Europe's largest economy in a coalition with the environmentalist Greens and pro-business Free Democrats.