In a Friday letter to the panel’s chairwoman, New York Democrat Carolyn Maloney, the National Archives and Records Administration, or NARA, said it had been unable to obtain records from a number of former officials and will continue to pursue the return of similar types of Presidential records from former officials.
But, “while there is no easy way to establish absolute accountability, we do know that we do not have custody of everything we should,” NARA said.
Last month, Maloney requested in a letter that NARA seek a “personal certification” from former President Donald Trump that he has turned over all presidential records he “illegally removed” from the White House.
The letter from the Archives is the latest development in the years-long pursuit from NARA to reclaim all records that belong to the federal government that were created during the Trump administration.
NARA’s back-and-forth with Trump and his liaisons led earlier this year to the return by former administration officials and lawyers of boxes and envelopes full of records. NARA’s findings in one of those collections prompted a Justice Department investigation into the mishandling of classified records and a search in August at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida beach club.
In its letter to Maloney, NARA cited a lawsuit filed last summer by the Justice Department asking a judge to order former Trump White House trade adviser Peter Navarro to return federal records the DOJ says he wrongfully kept after leaving the administration.
The DOJ said Navarro used a private mail account for presidential business, “such as the need for ventilators, the creation and deployment of National-Guard based rapid response teams, and the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID,” the DOJ filing said.
According to the lawsuit, the National Archives learned of Navarro’s private account from the House committee investigating the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is outrageous that these records remain unaccounted for 20 months after former President Trump left office,” Maloney said in a statement Saturday. “Former President Trump and his senior staff have shown an utter disregard for the rule of law and our national security by failing to return presidential records as the law requires.”
In Friday’s letter, NARA referred questions about whether it intends to pursue criminal charges to the Justice Department.