2021-01-16 20:14:34 –
By DEBRIECH MANN
Washington (AP) —People haven’t seen President Donald Trump’s White House record for years, but there is growing concern that the collection isn’t complete and leaves a hole in America’s busiest presidential history. I will.
Mr. Trump was a knight party on a law requiring records to be kept. He has a habit of ripping documents before throwing them away, forcing White House record workers to spend hours taping them together.
“They told him to stop it. He didn’t want to stop,” said Solomon Lati, a former White House record analyst. He said the first document he taped with was a letter from Senator Chuck Schumer about the closure of the government.
After Trump chatted with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, the president also confiscated the interpreter’s notes. Mr. Trump scolded the White House adviser for taking notes at a meeting during a Russian investigation by former special adviser Robert Mueller. High-ranking government officials had to repeatedly warn them not to do public affairs with private email or text messaging systems, and to maintain them if they did.
And now, Trump’s widespread fraudulent allegations, which postponed approval of Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election for several weeks, delayed the transfer of documents to the National Archives and Records Administration, against record integrity. It raises concerns even further.
“Historians can suffer far more holes than traditional standards,” said Richard Immerman of the American Association of Foreign Relations Historians. At the Trump White House, “Not only is records management not a priority, but there are several examples of trying to hide or destroy records.”
The lack of complete records can also hinder Trump’s ongoing investigation, from his impeachment trial and other future federal investigations to investigations in New York State.
However, there is a perception that violations of the Presidential Records Act have little effect on Trump, despite requests from lawmakers and proceedings by government transparency groups.
When dismissing a case last year, Judge David Tateru of the US Circuit Court said the court “has no control over the president’s daily compliance.”
The Presidential Records Act states that records cannot be destroyed until the president notifies Congress for the advice of a national archivist. However, the law does not require him to pay attention to the archivist’s advice. It does not prevent the president from going ahead and destroying records.
Most presidential records today are electronic. Record experts estimate that automated backup computer systems capture most of the records, but White House cannot capture records that the White House chooses not to create or log in to.
Moving the president’s paper and electronic record trails can be a daunting task. President Barack Obama left about 30 million pages of paper documents and about 250 terabytes of electronic records, equivalent to about 1.5 billion pages of email.
Past presidential records are important because they help current presidents formulate new policies and prevent repeated mistakes.
“The presidential record tells the story of our country from a unique perspective and is essential for the next administration in making informed decisions,” said Lee, director of the National Union for History. White said. “They are equally important to historians.”
When Trump lost the November elections, recording staff were in a position to transfer electronic records, pack paper records, and move to the National Archives by January 20, as required by law. did. But Trump’s hesitation in making concessions means they miss the deadline.
“The necessary funding from the (White House) Office of Management and Budget was delayed weeks after the election, delaying preparations for putting President Trump’s records under the control of the National Archives,” said the National Archives. Statement to the Associated Press. “The transfer of these records will not be completed until after 20 January, but the National Archives will undertake their legal custody on 20 January in accordance with the Presidential Records Act.”
White House spokesman Judd Deer said disagreements with the election would not delay the transfer of presidential records to the archive, and staff would have access to guidance on how to pack the materials.
Some people familiar with the transition usually emailed guidance to government employees on how to submit equipment and pack offices, but soon after Trump insisted against the election. Said it was canceled.
Some White House staff quietly began calling record workers to find out what to do with little guidance.
Departing employees are instructed to create a list of folders in each box, create a spreadsheet, and provide the National Archives with a way to track and retrieve information about the following Biden teams: Confidential material complicates the process.
The Biden administration can demand that Trump’s records be viewed immediately, but the law says that the general public must wait five years before submitting a request for information disclosure law. Still, Trump, like other presidents before him, imposes certain restrictions on public access to his records for up to 12 years. The six restrictions outlined in the law include national security, confidential business information, confidential communications between the President and his advisers, or between his advisers and personal information.
Records management practices
Before and after Mr. Trump’s first impeachment and other delicate issues, some of the usual workflow practices were circumvented, a second person familiar with the process said. Obviously worried about leaks, senior officials and White House lawyers became more involved in deciding which materials were cataloged and scanned into the White House’s computer network for automatic storage. This person said.
Individuals who spoke anonymously because they did not have the authority to publicly discuss the internal workings of the White House said that, for example, if uncatalogized material was stored in an office vault, it would be stored at least temporarily. It was. However, if not cataloged in the first place, staff will not know they exist and will not be able to track such materials.
When White House staff witnessed Trump tearing and discarding the document, he quickly learned that Trump was ignoring the document.
“My director came to me and said,’You have to tape these together,'” said former record analyst Larty.
Lati told the President that one of the White House Chiefs of Staff told the president that the document was considered the president’s record and must be preserved by law. About 10 record staff were obliged to scotch tape at various times from the first day of Trump’s White House to at least mid-2018, Lati said.
Trump staff also engaged in suspicious practices using private email and messaging apps. In February 2017, former White House adviser Don McGahn sent a note instructing employees not to use unofficial text messaging apps or private email accounts. If so, he said they had to take a screenshot of the material and copy it to their official email account. He sent back a note in September 2017.
Tom Brunton, who oversees the George Washington University National Security Archive, founded in 1985 to fight government secrets, said:
President Trump was criticized for confiscating an interpreter’s memo with him in 2017 when he talked with Putin in Hamburg, Germany. Lawmakers failed to get a note from another interpreter who was with Trump when he met Putin in Helsinki, Finland in 2018. It is unclear whether the two presidents have discussed Russia’s intervention in the 2016 elections. Many people came up with the subject as Putin said he believed in Putin when Putin denied Russia’s intervention, even though U.S. intelligence found opposition at a subsequent press conference. I suspected that it was.
A few weeks ago, the National Security Archives, two historic associations, citizens for responsibility and ethics in Washington, sent and received emails and records from the Trump White House on private accounts and informal accounts such as WhatsApp. I appealed to prevent it from being destroyed.
They also argued that the White House was likely to have already destroyed the president’s materials.
A temporary injunction after a government lawyer told the judge that the court had instructed the White House to notify all employees to keep all electronic communications in their original form until the proceedings were resolved. I refused to issue an order.
“I think there was a serious breach of the Presidential Records Act, so you can see that there is a big hole in the president’s historical record,” said Anne Weissman, one of the group’s leading lawyers in the proceedings. I did. .. “I don’t think President Trump cares about his record and what it says, but I think he probably cares about what he says about his criminal liability.”
Trump faces some legal challenges when he leaves the White House. There are two inquiries from New York about whether he misunderstood tax authorities, banks, or business partners. Two women who claim he has committed sexual assault are also suing him.
Destroy or preserve history
Until the Watergate scandal under President Richard Nixon passed the Presidential Records Act in 1978, and he was concerned that Nixon had destroyed the White House tape recording and resigned, presidential records were held by the president. It was considered private property.
After that, the president’s records were no longer considered personal property, but American property — if they were preserved. Parliamentarians have introduced legislation that requires the White House’s records management and legal compliance audits.
“Americans shouldn’t have to wait until the president resigns to find out about the president’s records management practices,” Weissman said.
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