WASHINGTON — The National Archives informed Congress on Friday that members of the Trump White House still had not turned over all presidential records and signaled there may very well be legal consequences for individuals who don’t comply.
In a letter sent to the House Oversight Committee, Debra Steidel Wall, the acting U.S. archivist, said the archives was working to retrieve electronic messages from certain unnamed White House officials who had used personal email and messaging accounts to conduct official business.
Ms. Wall wrote that the archives would seek the advice of the Justice Department about whether to “initiate an motion for the recovery of records unlawfully removed.”
“While there isn’t a easy approach to establish absolute accountability, we do know that we do not need custody of every thing we should always,” Ms. Wall wrote to Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of Recent York and the chairwoman of the Oversight Committee.
Ms. Wall cited an August filing by the Justice Department to recuperate official email records from the private account of Peter Navarro, a former Trump adviser. Mr. Navarro is facing charges of contempt of Congress after he refused to comply with a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
In her letter, Ms. Wall declined to say whether former President Donald J. Trump had surrendered all presidential records in his possession.
“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.
“The National Archives has confirmed to the Oversight Committee that they still haven’t received all presidential records from the Trump White House,” Ms. Maloney said in an announcement. “Presidential records are the property of the American people, and it’s outrageous that these records remain unaccounted for 20 months after former President Trump left office.”
Ms. Maloney had requested a proper assessment from the archives of what presidential records remained unaccounted for and whether the archives believed any were potentially still in Mr. Trump’s possession.
Ms. Maloney also requested that the archives “seek a private certification from Donald Trump that he has surrendered all presidential records that he illegally faraway from the White House after leaving office.”
The federal government tried and failed for greater than a 12 months and a half to retrieve classified and sensitive documents from Mr. Trump before resorting on Aug. 8 to a search of his Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago, in keeping with government documents and statements by his lawyers.
Two months before the search, Mr. Trump’s lawyer certified that every one documents bearing classified markings had been returned and that no “copy, written notation or reproduction of any kind was retained.”
Yet the F.B.I. search revealed that the previous president still had greater than 11,000 government records, including greater than 100 with classified markings and documents with the best classification markings, some related to human intelligence sources. There have been additional classified documents in Mr. Trump’s office desk drawer.
The search also turned up 48 folders with classified markings that were empty. Even though it was unclear why they were empty, the committee said, the apparent separation of classified material and presidential records from their designated folders raised questions on how the materials were stored and whether sensitive material might need been lost or obtained by third parties.