The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) said it retrieved 15 boxes of White House records and other items last month that were stored at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property instead of at the National Archives.
As first reported by The Washington Post, the documents retrieved from the Florida property contained important records of communication along with Trump’s self-described “love letters” with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as well as a letter addressed to Trump from his predecessor, former President Barack Obama.
According to the newspaper, the boxes of records at Mar-a-Lago violated the Presidential Records Act — which requires the keeping of all forms of documents and communications related to a president’s or vice president’s official duties.
As required by the act, the records discovered at Mar-a-Lago should have been transferred to NARA from the White House at the end of the Trump administration in January 2021.
“The Presidential Records Act mandates that all Presidential records must be properly preserved by each Administration so that a complete set of Presidential records is transferred to the National Archives at the end of the Administration,” said David Ferriero, archivist of the United States.
In a statement released by the National Archives Public and Media Communications, the agency said that it arranged for the transport of 15 boxes containing the presidential records from Trump’s Florida property last month “following discussions with President Trump’s representatives in 2021.”
Representatives for Trump informed NARA they are continuing to “search for additional Presidential records that belong to the National Archives,” according to the National Archives.
Trump advisers told the Post that they deny “any nefarious intent” and said the 15 boxes contained “mementos, gifts, letters from world leaders and other correspondence.”
News of the boxes discovered at Trump’s Florida residence comes a week after the Archives turned over damaged White House documents from his administration to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol.
Hundreds of pages of documents were either taped back together or arrived at the Archives “still in pieces,” the Post reported.
“The only way that a president can really be held accountable long term is to preserve a record about who said what, who did what, what policies were encouraged or adopted, and that is such an important part of the long-term scope of accountability — beyond just elections and campaigns,” presidential historian Lindsay Chervinsky told the Post.