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National Archives releases more docs tied to Mar-a-Lago investigation

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 11/9/2022 Jerry Dunleavy
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The National Archives released more internal communications related to the Mar-a-Lago investigation into former President Donald Trump, although the agency said it was still withholding nearly 1,000 pages of records.

The newly released records include National Archives communications from 2021 and 2022, largely related to media requests and the responses from the government agency.

“News reports surrounding the boxes and presence of classified information resulted in dozens of requests for these records from the press, members of Congress and the public,” the National Archives said Wednesday. “Today’s release consists of communications between NARA officials related to the 15 boxes. We expect to process more internal communications related to the 15 boxes for release in December. We are releasing 23 pages in full and 52 pages in part. We are withholding 855 pages in full.”

The National Archives said most of the requested documents are being withheld under Freedom of Information Act exemptions related to the agency’s “internal deliberations and privileged communications” with federal agencies and Congress, information that involves “personal privacy” interests, and details “concerning active law enforcement proceedings and efforts.”

The specter of criminal charges against Trump related to documents seized from Mar-a-Lago is reemerging as the midterm elections conclude and the former president seemingly moves toward a new presidential bid.

The Department of Justice is investigating the former president related to the events of Jan. 6, 2021, and separately conducted an unprecedented FBI raid of Trump’s Florida resort home of Mar-a-Lago in August as part of an inquiry into his handling of documents. It is not yet known whether the Biden DOJ will charge Trump, although if such charges are incoming, they may have been delayed until after the Senate and House races finished to avoid the perception of interfering in the election.


The search warrant application cover sheet, unsealed in late August, provided more details on what the DOJ sought. The records show Trump was being investigated under 18 U.S.C. 793, part of the Espionage Act, and said it was related to “willful retention of national defense information.” The record also pointed to 18 U.S.C. 2071, specifically the “concealment or removal” of government records, as well as 18 U.S.C. 1519, specifically related to “obstruction” of a federal investigation.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said in August that he “personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant in this matter.”

The National Archives previously released emails between agency officials and Trump officials.

The White House's claim that President Joe Biden was not briefed about the investigation into Trump appears to have been contradicted by a letter from the head of the National Archives.

Biden officials have repeatedly said the White House did not know about the raid on Mar-a-Lago ahead of time. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre seemed to go much further on Aug. 31 when she said Biden had not been briefed on any part of the criminal investigation, which has been active for months.

Then-acting Archivist Debra Wall sent a May 10 letter to Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran informing him that the National Archives came into possession 15 boxes of records transferred from Mar-a-Lago in January, and an initial review of the records “identified items marked as classified national security information.”

The archivist said this soon resulted in Biden and the White House being made aware of the situation as the FBI sought access to the records.

“NARA informed the Department of Justice about that discovery, which prompted the Department to ask the President to request that NARA provide the FBI with access to the boxes at issue so that the FBI and others in the Intelligence Community could examine them,” Wall wrote in the letter. “On April 11, 2022, the White House Counsel’s Office — affirming a request from the Department of Justice supported by an FBI letterhead memorandum — formally transmitted a request that NARA provide the FBI access to the 15 boxes for its review within seven days."

The letter was followed the next day by a DOJ-obtained grand jury subpoena, an early June visit to Mar-a-Lago by DOJ investigators, and finally by the early August raid.

“It has now been four weeks since we first informed you of our intent to provide the FBI access to the boxes so that it and others in the Intelligence Community can conduct their reviews,” Wall said in May.


Wall also said the Biden White House counsel informed her that “President Biden defers to my determination, in consultation with the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel, regarding whether or not I should uphold” Trump’s assertion of executive privilege.

“No. The president was not briefed ... was not aware of it. No. No one at the White House was given a heads up,” Jean-Pierre said the day after the search. “We learned about this just like the public, just as you all were reporting it, through the public reports.”


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Tags: Justice, Justice Department, National Archives, Mar-a-Lago

Original Author: Jerry Dunleavy

Original Location: National Archives releases more docs tied to Mar-a-Lago investigation


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