WASHINGTON (AP) – The National Archives and Records Administration informed lawmakers that a number of electronic communications from Trump White House staff remain missing, nearly two years after the administration was required to hand them over.
The nation’s records-keeping agency, in a letter Friday to the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said that despite ongoing staff efforts, electronic communications between certain unidentified White House officials have not yet been were in his custody.
“While there is no easy way to establish absolute responsibility, we know that we do not have custody of everything that we should,” Debra Steidel Wall, acting US archivist, wrote in a letter to the Chair of Oversight Carolyn Maloney, DN.
The letter specified that the National Archives would consult with the Justice Department on how to move forward and recover “unlawfully removed records.”
It has been widely reported that President Donald Trump’s White House officials used unofficial email accounts during his four years in office. The Presidential Records Act, which says those records are government property and must be preserved, requires staff to copy or forward those messages to their official email accounts.
The agency says that while it has been able to obtain those records from some former officials, some are pending. The Justice Department has already sought the records of a former Trump official, Peter Navarro, who prosecutors accused of using at least one “unofficial” email account — a ProtonMail account — to send and receive emails while working as a business advisor to the president.
The August legal action came just weeks after Navarro was indicted on criminal charges after refusing to cooperate with a congressional investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The House committee has jurisdiction over the Presidential Records Act, a 1978 law that requires the preservation of White House documents as property of the US government. The request is the latest development in a month of back-and-forth between the agency and the committee, which has been investigating Trump’s handling of the records.
Friday’s letter also comes nearly two months after the FBI recovered more than 100 classified documents and more than 10,000 other government documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. Trump’s lawyers had provided sworn certification that all government records had been returned.
Maloney and other Democratic lawmakers on the panel have been seeking a National Archives briefing but have not received one because of the Justice Department’s ongoing criminal investigation into the matter.