White House considers changes to presidential records rule

White House considers changes to presidential records rule
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The White House is reviewing a proposal that apparently would change the rules for when electronic records created by a president can be kept confidential, a move that comes just four months before President Obama leaves office. 

The National Archives and Records Administration sent a proposal to the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) on Monday that appears to propose a change to the Presidential and Federal Records Acts Amendments of 2014.

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The proposed rule would clarify that any incumbent or former president can raise a claim of constitutionally based privilege to keep an electronic record from being made public.

No draft of the proposed rule has been made publicly available and NARA refused to respond to request for comments and directed The Hill to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which oversees OIRA.

OMB did not respond to request for comment on Tuesday.

Susan Dudley, a former OIRA administrator who is now director of the GW Regulatory Studies Center at The George Washington University, said it’s normal for OIRA to review regulations before they are publicly proposed as well as before they are made final. 

She noted there is little time left for federal agencies to collect public comments and finalize a rule before the Obama administration ends.

Presidential records law now allows incumbents and former presidents to raise a claim of constitutionally based privilege against disclosure of a presidential record. The claim must be made personally. If made by a former president, the incumbent president must sign off on the request.