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President Trump. Photo: Erin Schaff/Pool/Getty Images

A government watchdog group filed a lawsuit against President Trump, his son-in-law Jared Kushner and the White House on Tuesday to prevent them from destroying records during his remaining time in office.

Why it matters: The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and other groups allege in their suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, that Trump and his administration are violating the Presidential Records Act by failing to properly preserve records of official government business.

Driving the news: The groups are calling on the White House to rescind an official policy that allows staff to preserve screenshots of information sent on non-official messaging platforms as official presidential records.

  • The screenshots don't capture each message's metadata and are, thus, not complete copies, contend CREW and the other plaintiffs — the National Security Archive, the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and the American Historical Association.
  • They say Kushner has "admitted using non-official messaging accounts like WhatsApp to conduct official White House business, relying on screenshots alone to satisfy his record-keeping obligations."

What else they're saying: By adopting a policy that allows White House staff to capture and preserve only parts of electronic messages on unofficial messaging accounts, the White House is "permitting the loss and destruction" of important presidential records, CREW said in a statement.

  • "This is part of a larger pattern of the President and the White House ignoring, if not flouting, their obligation to create and preserve records memorializing official actions and decisions."
"With the President facing potential legal and financial exposure once he leaves office, there is a growing risk that he will destroy records of his presidency before leaving."
— CREW statement
  • The White House declined to comment on the case.

Read the lawsuit, via DocumentCloud:

Go deeper

Jan 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Women take press lead in Biden era

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Women will overwhelmingly guide coverage of the White House and politics during the Biden administration, propelled by a slew of newly appointed leaders at major TV and radio networks, newspapers and digital outlets.

Why it matters: While female representation in the Washington press corps has steadily grown, what's changed most recently is the number of women in front of and behind cameras and bylines.

China builds its own movie empire

Expand chart
Data: Gower Street citing Comscore; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

China blocked all four of Disney's Marvel movies from being released in its theaters last year, a grim sign for U.S. film giants being squeezed out of the world's fastest-growing box office.

Why it matters: The Chinese Communist Party is using domestic films as a key conduit for mass messaging aimed at achieving political goals, leaving little room for foreign views.

Why 401(k) rollovers are so annoying

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If you happened to change jobs recently, you may have tried to transfer your retirement account from your former employer into an Individual Retirement Account or your new employer's 401(k) plan. If so, you probably encountered a bureaucratic gantlet — and you're not alone.

Why it matters: Kludgey processes around retirement account transfers result in people losing track of their funds, giving up important tax advantages, or otherwise disadvantaging themselves and being less prepared for retirement.