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Congressional panel will investigate Trump's removal of White House documents

A House panel is investigating the removal of 15 boxes of official documents from the White House by former President Trump.
Gerald Herbert
A House panel is investigating the removal of 15 boxes of official documents from the White House by former President Trump.

The chair of the House Oversight Committee is seeking answers aboutthe removal of 15 boxes of White House documents from former President Donald Trump's Florida residence, the latest twist in the saga of Trump's treatment of official records while in and after leaving office.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., sent a letter to David Ferriero, the archivist of the U.S., seeking information about the records, which the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) recently recovered from Trump's Mar-a-Lago home.

"I am deeply concerned that these records were not provided to NARA promptly at the end of the Trump Administration and that they appear to have been removed from the White House in violation of the Presidential Records Act (PRA)," Maloney wrote. "I am also concerned by recent reports that while in office, President Trump repeatedly attempted to destroy presidential records, which could constitute additional serious violations of the PRA."

Maloney cited recent reports in the Washington Post that Trump frequently ripped up documents while in office, including briefings, letters and memos, which were then taped back together by staffers. She called on NARA to respond to her request by Feb. 18.

In her letter, Maloney noted that the PRA "preserves the records made by a sitting president, while giving legal ownership of those records to the American people," and was enacted after "President Nixon's attempts to destroy presidential records during the Watergate scandal."

The Archives confirmed to NPR that it recovered records from Trump late last year after it "obtained the cooperation of Trump representatives to locate Presidential records that had not been transferred to the National Archives at the end of the Trump administration. When a representative informed NARA in December 2021 that they had located some records, NARA arranged for them to be securely transported to Washington. NARA officials did not visit or 'raid' the Mar-a-Lago property."

Trump, meanwhile, denied reports that he disposed of some papers in the White House toilet. According to a forthcoming book by New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, engineers on several occasions were called to unclog White House toilets and found they were blocked by torn up papers.

In a statement, Trump called the report "categorically untrue and simply made up by a reporter in order to get publicity for a mostly fictitious book."

Trump said that he turned over the documents to NARA following "collaborative and respectful discussions." "Some of this information will someday be displayed in the Donald J. Trump Presidential Library for the public to view my Administration's incredible accomplishments for the American People."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.