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House Oversight asks Archives for information about Trump’s handling of White House records

Trump says his relationship with the Archives has been mischaracterized by the media

House Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) wants to know the "extent and impact" of information former president Donald J. Trump witheld from the National Archives and Records Administration. (Ting Shen/Bloomberg)

The chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee is moving quickly on her promise to investigate Donald Trump’s handling of White House records on the heels of revelations that 15 boxes of materials were recovered from the former president’s Mar-a-Lago residence.

In a letter sent Wednesday to Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) requested information “to examine the extent and impact” of Trump’s apparent violations of the Presidential Records Act, which requires the preservation of memos, letters, notes, emails, faxes and other written communications related to a president’s official duties.

The letter, provided to The Washington Post, asked for a detailed inventory of the contents of the recovered boxes, a description of records that Trump “destroyed or attempted to destroy” without the approval of the Archives, and whether the contents are undergoing a review to determine if they contain classified information. Maloney also asked whether "the Archivist has notified the Attorney General that former President Trump removed presidential records from the White House.”

“Removing or concealing government records is a criminal offense punishable by up to three years in prison,” Maloney wrote. “Former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, for example, was prosecuted for taking classified documents from NARA. Former President Trump and his senior advisors must also be held accountable for any violations of the law.”

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that the Archives asked the Justice Department to examine Trump’s handling of White House records, sparking discussions among federal law enforcement officials about whether they should investigate the former president for a possible crime, according to two people familiar with the matter.

In her letter, Maloney went on to note that “Republicans in Congress obsessively investigated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server for official communications," while “Trump’s conduct, in contrast, involves a former president potentially violating a criminal law by intentionally removing records, including communications with a foreign leader, from the White House and reportedly attempting to destroy records by tearing them up.”

In a statement Wednesday, Trump said 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.” He said that the media had falsely characterized his relationship with the National Archives and Records Administration as hostile and 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.

The deadline for Maloney’s request is Feb. 18.