The National Archives has informed Congress that it would speak with the Justice Department about taking legal action to recover presidential papers that were not turned over by former President Donald Trump’s administration.
On September 13, a congressional subcommittee demanded that the National Archives and Records Administration conduct an expedited assessment because agency employees had admitted that they did not know whether or not all presidential records from Trump’s White House had been turned over.
Acting Archivist Debra Wall wrote to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Friday, “While there is no easy way to achieve absolute accountability, we do know that we do not have custody of everything we should.”
According to Wall, the Archives is aware that some White House employees violated the Presidential Records Act by using private electronic messaging accounts for important activity without copying or forwarding their messages to their official accounts.
“NARA has been able to recover such records from a number of former officials and will continue to pursue the return of comparable sorts of presidential records from former officials,” Wall said in the letter, which was originally published by the Wall Street Journal.
For the purpose of determining “whether to begin an action for the recovery of records improperly removed,” she stated the federal agency responsible for protecting government records would confer with the Department of Justice.
The Oversight Committee provided Reuters with a copy of the letter but has not commented publicly on the matter as of this writing.
Attempts to reach out to Trump’s representatives for comment were not immediately returned.
The Justice Department is looking into whether or not Trump committed a crime by keeping classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida after he leaves office in January 2021.
After a court-approved search at Mar-a-Lago on August 8, the FBI was able to seize about 11,000 papers, including around 100 classified documents.
The Justice Department and Trump’s attorneys are at odds in court over the materials. The government’s lawyers had access to the classified records, but on Friday they requested an appeals court to speed up the process by which they might review the non-classified materials that were taken in Florida.