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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

Romney: White House should "say something aggressive" on Russian cyberattack

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) called on the White House to “aggressively” condemn a suspected Russian cyberattack in an interview with SiriusXM on Thursday evening.

Why it matters: Since news broke that hackers tied to Russia penetrated U.S. government networks and companies, public officials including President-elect Biden have come forward with rebukes. President Trump has been largely silent, though the White House has held emergency meetings with officials across agencies to address the breach, per Bloomberg.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden readies massive shifts in policy for his first days in office.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.
  6. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.
Dave Lawler, author of World
3 hours ago - World

Alexey Navalny detained after landing back in Moscow

Navalny and his wife shortly before he was detained. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was detained upon his return to Moscow on Sunday, which came five months after he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. He returned despite being warned that he would be arrested.

The latest: Navalny was stopped at a customs checkpoint and led away alone by officers. He appeared to hug his wife goodbye, and his spokesman reports that his lawyer was not allowed to accompany him.