According to a letter delivered by the National Archives to President Trump’s attorneys this year, the former president transferred over 700 pages of secret papers to his private club and estate in Florida when he left office in January 2021.
On May 10, acting U.S. archivist Debra Steidel Wall wrote a letter to one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Evan Corcoran, describing the concern in the Justice Department as officials there realized how dangerous the records were.
Also, it was implied that the damage assessment about the removal of the records from the White House was delayed as Mr. Trump’s lawyers argued that some of the documents might have been covered by presidential privilege.
On Monday night, John Solomon, a longtime friend of Mr. Trump’s in the media and one of the former president’s representatives to the archives, made the letter public. On Tuesday, the letter was made public after being kept in storage.
On Monday, the New York Times claimed that investigators had retrieved over 300 documents from Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago house and private club, each document perhaps containing many pages.
The archived letter was released to the public not long after Mr. Trump’s attorneys filed a legal motion Monday asking a federal judge in Florida to appoint an independent arbiter, known as a special master, to sort through the pile of documents confiscated from Mar-a-Lago on August 8 and identify those that are subject to executive privilege.
The motion was filed in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida as a different federal judge was considering whether or not to release the affidavit that was used to obtain the search warrant.
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On Tuesday, Mr. Solomon appeared on a podcast hosted by Stephen K. Bannon, a former White House counselor to Mr. Trump, and he attempted to imply that Ms. Wall’s letter implicated President Biden in the dispute over the sensitive information. Ms. Wall wrote to Mr. Corcoran to let him know that Vice President Biden shared her and others’ opinion that Mr. Trump’s claims of executive privilege over the documents were without merit.
Mr. Solomon insinuated that Mr. Biden was responsible for the search of Mar-a-Lago and the decision to reject Mr. Trump’s claims of privilege, but no such indication appeared in the letter.
As an added bonus, the letter clarified the back-and-forth between the archives and Mr. Trump’s attorneys on the retrieval process.
Information regarding missing presidential documents was discussed in “ongoing conversations” between archives staff and Mr. Trump’s aides throughout the course of last year. Ms. Wall noted that as a result of these conversations, 15 boxes of documents were retrieved by the archives in January. Some of these documents were labelled top secret and connected to Special Access Programs.
It also detailed how the Justice Department issued a second subpoena after a top national security prosecutor went to Mar-a-Lago to obtain the documents originally requested. That was for footage from security cameras on the premises, indicating that prosecutors were worried that neither Mr. Trump nor his attorneys had been completely forthright.