When the Justice Department searched Mar-a-Lago last month, it not only found piles of documents, but also empty folders, marked as classified.
A question arose: what was supposed to be in those folders? Or, rather: after a year and a half of clogging up the National Archives, and then the Justice Department, which Trump still has government and potentially classified records?
according to a letter from House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), officials at the National Archives believe that may be the case.
NARA employees told panel staff on August 24 that “the agency is not sure if all presidential records are in its custody,” the letter says.
malone managed September 13 letter to NARA chief Debra Steidel Wall requesting an “urgent review” to determine what Trump-era records may remain “outside the agency’s custody and control,” and for the agency to look for a “personal certification” from Trump, stating that he has turned over all presidential records to the government.
NARA’s lack of certainty about whether Trump turned over all government records in his possession follows months and months in which the former president procrastinated as various federal agencies tried to retrieve the records.
The archives began trying to retrieve the records in the months after Trump left office, but the former president did not agree to release any records until December 2021. A 15-box stretch left Mar-a-Lago for NARA in January 2021. 2022, at which point archives officials found classified marked records in the documents.
That led to a Justice Department investigation and, after Trump stalled further and defied a grand jury subpoena, the FBI seized the remaining records at Mar-a-Lago in August.
But it’s not clear whether the records returned to the government in August constitute the entirety of what Trump took. He maintains several residences; Federal prosecutors noted in a recent filing that this is the focus of their investigation of him.
Maloney’s panel has played a discreet but important role in exposing elements of the scandal. In correspondence between NARA and the committee, archives officials revealed that they made a criminal referral on the matter and suggested that the Justice Department had launched an investigation.
Maloney said there was a “serious risk” of more records remaining with Trump.