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GOP House Oversight members press National Archives over role in FBI’s Mar-a-Lago search

AP-Terry Ranna
The entrance to former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate is shown, Monday, Aug. 8, 2022, in Palm Beach, Fla. Trump said in a lengthy statement that the FBI was conducting a search of his Mar-a-Lago estate and asserted that agents had broken open a safe. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)

Republicans on the House Oversight and Reform Committee sent a letter on Wednesday to the head of the National Archives and Records Administration asking about its role in the FBI’s search of former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. 

The lawmakers — led by Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), the ranking member of the committee — sent the letter to Debra Wall, the acting archivist of the United States, requesting an “immediate briefing” on the National Archives’ role. They also ask Wall to preserve all documents and communications related to the FBI’s search warrant. 

The FBI reportedly conducted the search for records that Trump took from the White House that were supposed to be turned over to the National Archives. The Archives reportedly asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate earlier this year after officials obtained 15 boxes of documents, some of which contained classified information, from Mar-a-Lago that should have been given to government record keepers. 

The letter states that the FBI and National Archives’ actions are “so contrary to customary treatment” of past presidents that they raise questions about whether they were politically motivated. 

Republicans have slammed the FBI’s search of Trump’s property since the warrant was executed, calling for an explanation from the DOJ about what led to the search. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has pledged to investigate the department if Republicans retake the House in the November midterm elections. 

DOJ officials have not publicly commented on the search, and the White House has maintained that it did not know of the search before it was executed, with press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre telling reporters that it learned of the warrant from public reports. 

The letter cites Washington Post reporting that all recent presidential administrations have had some violations of the Presidential Records Act, the 1978 law that requires presidents to turn over certain records after their administration ends. 

But the Post’s story also states that sources said the volume of the records that needed to be retrieved from Mar-a-Lago was much larger than with past administrations. 

The letter states that the National Archives’ “singling out” of Trump contrasts with how the agency had handled “far clearer” violations from officials who are not Republicans. The members are requesting a briefing no later than Aug. 17, along with a range of documents from Jan. 20, 2021, the day Trump left office, to the present. 

The documents and communications requested include those between any National Archives employee and the FBI or DOJ regarding Trump, as well as communications between Archives employees regarding documents in Trump’s possession since Jan. 20, 2021.

The members are also requesting documents produced by any National Archives employee and submitted to a U.S. federal district court, magistrate or judge during that time.

Tags Debra Wall Donald Trump FBI search warrant House Oversight Committee James Comer James Comer Kevin McCarthy Mar-a-Lago National Archives presidential records
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