US National Archives Refutes Trump's Claims That Obama Took Classified Docs With Him
21:55 GMT 12.08.2022 (Updated: 18:59 GMT 03.11.2022)
The FBI conducted an unprecedented search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, Florida, earlier this week. Although it is yet unclear what the FBI was searching for, reports have connected the search warrant to the National Archives' request to look into whether Trump breached the law by taking sensitive documents with him earlier.
The US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) released a statement on Friday in an effort to refute claims regarding former President Barack Obama's presidential records after former President Donald Trump and his supporters in conservative circles claimed that his predecessor was able to take large numbers of documents with him after he left office.
"NARA moved approximately 30 million pages of unclassified records to a NARA facility in the Chicago area where they are maintained exclusively by NARA," the archives said in a statement. "Additionally, NARA maintains the classified Obama Presidential records in a NARA facility in the Washington, DC, area. As required by the [Presidential Records Act] PRA, former President Obama has no control over where and how NARA stores the Presidential records of his Administration."
Following the Monday raid, Trump and some conservative commentators questioned Obama's alleged decision to move White House records to Chicago, Illinois, for his presidential library.
"What happened to the 30 million pages of documents taken from the White House to Chicago by Barack Hussein Obama? He refused to give them back!" Trump wrote in a Thursday post on his Truth Social platform. "What is going on? This act was strongly at odds with NARA. Will they be breaking into Obama's 'mansion' in Martha's Vineyard?"
In addition, the former president's son, Donald Trump Jr., allegedly cited the op-ed
in the New York Post as justification for the claims.
Obama's papers, numbering in the tens of thousands, were indeed shipped to Chicago. However, as NARA pointed out, these materials were delivered to a federal government institution, as is the custom with presidential records.
Since all of these items are actually the property of the American people, federal law mandates that presidents and their administrations maintain a thorough archive
of communications, papers, and even gifts from their time in office.
Obama's papers were legally transferred to the National Archives, which then started the laborious process of going through them before the public could request them years later. Some of this information would then be provided to Obama's presidential library, as required by law.
Aside from the drawn-out procedures, Obama's presidential library will deviate from tradition in that the Obama Foundation will pay for the digitization of the unclassified records in an effort to democratize access to them. This will be the "first digital archives for the first digital president," according to The New York Times.
However, five years after the conclusion of Obama's presidency and the start of the record transfer, the items from the records transferred to his presidential library still have reportedly not been digitized and made publicly accessible.
Though the delay has aroused some ire from historians and critics, the actual transfer of the records, let alone the labor of digitizing over 30 million papers to be made available online, frequently takes years, Business Insider claimed in a report.
12 August 2022, 19:15 GMT
On Friday evening, law enforcement unsealed a previously classified search warrant, from which it became known that a list of the items confiscated from Mar-a-Lago included 20 boxes of files and 11 sets of classified documents, some of which were labeled as top secret.
Others included an unidentified handwritten message, Roger Stone's executive pardon, and vague details regarding French President Emmanuel Macron.
The FBI obtained a search warrant in order to determine whether Trump had taken records home with him that were supposed to be handed over at the end of his tenure. The FBI investigation into Trump concerns potential violations of the espionage law, and it could result in a prison term for the former US president.