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The National Archives warned Trump’s lawyers in 2021 about missing White House documents, including correspondence with Kim Jong-Un

Washington – An official who works for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) warned Donald Trump’s legal team in May 2021 that the Archives were missing numerous records from the Trump White House that needed to be returned urgently, according to a letter released by the Archives Monday following a request from the Act. of Freedom of Information.

On May 6, 2021, NARA General Counsel Gary Stern wrote to a group of Trump attorneys, including Patrick Philbin and Michael Purpura, informing them that “approximately two dozen boxes of original presidential records” from Trump’s time in office that were once kept in the White House residence had not yet been returned to the Archives.

Other missing records include an “original correspondence” between Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and a letter that then-President Barack Obama left for Trump during the 2017 presidential transition, a White House tradition, according to the letter.

Trump told the New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman in an interview for his upcoming book “Confidence Man” that has “great things” from his time in the White House, including Kim’s letters, according to audio posted on CNN. When Haberman specifically asked about Kim’s letters, Trump said “no, I think that has… I think it’s in the files, but most of it is in the files. But the Kim Jong Un letters, we have amazing stuff. I have amazing cards with other leaders.”

US President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meet at the Korean Demilitarized Zone
US President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Panmunjom, South Korea, on June 30, 2019.


“We know things were very chaotic, as they always are in the course of a term transition,” Stern wrote, “but it is absolutely necessary that we obtain and account for all original presidential records.”

The letter said that former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone had made the determination that the records in question should be turned over to NARA in the final days of the Trump administration.

Stern’s letter was also addressed to Scott Gast, a Washington DC attorney who, like Philbin, served as deputy White House counsel. Stern wrote that NARA had already worked with Gast on “capturing presidential records on social media accounts,” so they turned to him and his former colleagues for additional help.

Philbin, Purpura and Gast did not immediately respond to CBS News request for comment. The former president has always maintained that he did nothing wrong and accused NARA of being a “radical left group of people.” He told Fox News last month that “when he sends documents over there, he would say there’s a good chance a lot of those documents will never be seen again.”

The newly released correspondence sheds light on the Archives’ efforts to fully recover what are said to have been missing White House records from the Trump team before referring the matter to the Justice Department for investigation. What followed the correspondence was a nearly 15-month tug-of-war between the Archives, Trump and federal prosecutors that culminated in the Aug. 8 execution of a federal search warrant at Trump’s Florida home.

Despite the Archives’ May 2021 notice that approximately 24 boxes of Trump White House records were pending, it was not until January 18, 2022 that only 15 boxes were recovered from Trump’s Florida residence.

“In mid-January 2022, NARA arranged for the transportation from the Trump Mar-a-Lago property in Florida to the National Archives of 15 boxes containing presidential records, following discussions with representatives of President Trump in 2021,” the officials said. Files in a release. statement weeks later“Representatives for former President Trump have informed NARA that they continue to seek additional presidential records belonging to the National Archives.”

The matter of the missing records was referred to the Justice Department for investigation in February, and according to NARA, the 15 boxes initially collected at Mar-a-Lago were turned over to the FBI by the Archives and President Biden in May, overriding numerous objections. of Trump. .

On May 11, 2022, a Ggrand jury issued a subpoena “seeking documents with classification marks” in Trump’s possession at Mar-a-Lago as part of the FBI’s investigation into alleged mishandling of the documents. By June, investigators had collected even more records, and a Trump representative reportedly signed a statement saying all classified materials had been removed from Mar-a-Lago.

Prosecutors revealed in a court filing that the FBI later developed evidence that its investigation could have been obstructed after the records in question were “likely hidden and removed” from its storage space. And by August 5, 2022, nearly 15 months after Stern’s May 2021 letter, the FBI obtained a court-authorized search warrant to seize any relevant Mar-a-Lago property related to the investigation. will run three days later.

The warrant yielded 33 boxes of material and records, including what the Justice Department says are more than 100 documents with classified markings and 48 empty folders marked with classified banners.

Prosecutors have said in court documents and hearings that they are now in the midst of a national security investigation.

The Archives said Friday that they still believe Trump White House records are missing. In a letter to House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Acting United States Archivist Debra Steidel Wall wrote, “While there is no easy way to establish absolute liability, we know there is no We have custody of everything we owe.” She specifically pointed to what NARA says are former officials who used unofficial email accounts to conduct government business without forwarding or copying the correspondence to their government addresses. In one notable case, the Justice Department sued Trump adviser Peter Navarro to recover emails from his time at White Houze. Navarro has denied any wrongdoing.

“Regarding the … matter of whether former President Trump has turned over all presidential records,” Wall wrote, “we respectfully refer you to the Department of Justice in light of their ongoing investigation.”

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