WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Archives and Records Administration has informed lawmakers that several electronic communications from Trump White House staff remain missing, nearly two years after the administration was required to turn them over.
The nation’s recordkeeping agency, in a letter Friday to the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said that despite ongoing staff efforts, electronic communications between certain unidentified White House officials they were not yet in his custody.
“While there is no easy way to establish absolute liability, we know that we do not have custody of everything that we should,” Debra Steidel Wall, the U.S. Acting Archivist, wrote in a letter to the Oversight chair, Carolyn Maloney, DN.Y.
The letter went on to specify that the National Archives would consult with the Justice Department on how to move forward and recover “illegally removed records.”
It has been widely reported that officials in President Donald Trump’s White House used unofficial email accounts during his four years in office. The Presidential Records Act, which states that such records are government property and must be preserved, requires staff to copy or forward those messages to their official electronic messaging accounts.
The agency says that while it has been able to obtain these records from some former officials, some are still pending. The Justice Department has already sought records of a former Trump official, Peter Navarro, who prosecutors accused of using at least one “unofficial” email account, a ProtonMail account, to send and receive email while working as a business adviser to the president.
The legal action in August came just weeks after Navarro was indicted on criminal charges after refusing to cooperate with a congressional investigation into the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol.
The House committee has jurisdiction over the Presidential Records Act, a 1978 law that requires the preservation of White House documents as the property of the United States government. The request is the latest development in months of back-and-forth between the agency and the committee, which has been investigating Trump’s handling of the records.
Friday’s letter also comes nearly two months after the FBI recovered more than 100 documents with classified markings and more than 10,000 other government documents from Trump’s estate at Mar-a-Lago. Trump’s attorneys had provided a sworn certification that all government records had been returned.
Maloney and other Democratic lawmakers on the panel have been seeking a report from the National Archives, but have not received one due to the Justice Department’s ongoing criminal investigation into the matter.