In an effort to determine if former President Donald Trump was holding on to more material from his time in the White House, the chair of the House Oversight Committee has formally asked the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to conduct a review to determine if any additional documents may be missing.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-New York), the chair of the committee, wrote a letter to NARA this week making the request. Maloney’s request leaves open the possibility that more documents may be found at the Palm Beach, Florida, residence of the former president — or even possibly at other Trump properties, as some of his former aides have alleged.
Maloney, citing Trump’s repeated efforts to hold on to the documents and to evade any attempts by the feds to retrieve them, wrote that the Oversight Committee “is concerned that, given this pattern of conduct, Mr. Trump may continue to retain presidential records at non-secure locations.” These documents may include “classified material that could endanger our nation’s security and other important records documenting Mr. Trump’s activities at the White House,” she added.
NARA apparently shares this concern with Maloney — in her letter, she cited a phone call that Oversight Committee staff had with the agency on August 24, in which aides from NARA informed the committee that “the agency is not certain whether all presidential records are in its custody.”
Maloney’s letter specifically asked NARA to “seek a personal certification from Donald Trump that he has surrendered all presidential records that he illegally removed from the White House after leaving office,” and that the agency “conduct an urgent review of presidential records recovered from the Trump White House to assess whether presidential records remain unaccounted for and potentially in the possession of the former president.”
The Oversight Committee wants NARA to complete the request by September 27, Maloney added.
Since the start of the year, more than 300 classified documents have been retrieved from Mar-a-Lago, through various searches and retrieval processes. Last month’s search of the property yielded over 11,000 government documents, around 100 of which had classified markings. Some of the documents were so highly classified that even many high-ranking national security officials didn’t know about them. Some also contained information about the nuclear weapons capabilities of a foreign nation.
Forty-eight empty folders were also found last month with classification markings, leading many to question what happened to the material that was contained in them.
NARA has sought the return of these documents from Trump since his final days in the White House. After his exit from office, the agency kept requesting to have them sent back, as they are not the personal property of the former president but belong to the federal government. After being rebuffed in its retrieval efforts for nearly a year, the agency finally threatened Trump to get Congress involved, resulting in his relenting to allow NARA to retrieve some documents in January 2022.
Upon completing that retrieval process, the agency discovered that some of the documents it got back were classified, and informed the Department of Justice (DOJ). In the spring, the department served Trump with a subpoena demanding another retrieval of additional classified documents, which was carried out in June. As part of that subpoena, a Trump lawyer affirmed, on his behalf, that he had no more classified documents on the premises or in his possession.
Evidence from an informant and surveillance footage after that event demonstrated to the DOJ that that was not the case, and in August the FBI carried out a search of Mar-a-Lago to get the remaining documents.