National Records and Archive Administration Acting Archivist Debra Steidel Wall said in a letter to Congress Thursday that her agency would not share any information with them regarding the Department of Justice probe into documents seized by the FBI from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.
“I apologize if my response may not have been clear and thus caused confusion. My letter was not intended to deny the existence of such responsive documents or communications to Congress,” Steidel Wall wrote to House Committee on Oversight and Reform ranking member Rep. James Comer, R-Ky. “Rather, its intent instead was to convey to you that, as a general matter, the Department of Justice has requested that NARA not share or otherwise disclose to others information related to this matter at this time in order to protect the integrity of DOJ’s ongoing work. I also let you know that ‘NARA is preserving all records related to this matter.'”
Comer and other Republicans on the committee sent a letter to NARA Aug. 30 asking for its communications with the DOJ surrounding the federal search warrant executed at the former president’s home Aug. 8 that took more than 11,000 documents, some marked “classified,” “secret,” or “top secret,” according to Newsweek.
The committee said in its letter to NARA that it wanted “all documents and communications between any employee or agent of NARA and the FBI and Department of Justice, including the offices of the United States Attorneys, regarding former President Trump.”
“On Aug. 22, 2022, ‘Just the News’ published a letter demonstrating robust negotiations between NARA and former President Trump’s attorney, Evan Corcoran,” that letter said. “Also on Aug. 22, 2022, the New York Times reported: ‘the material in the boxes prompted archives officials to refer the matter to the Justice Department, which within months had convened a grand jury investigation.'”
“The article explains that NARA ‘spent much of 2021 trying to get back material from Mr. Trump,’ as well as noting NARA’s role in preserving presidential records,” wrote the Republican lawmakers. “The letter to Mr. Corcoran, along with any other documents demonstrating negotiations with former President Trump’s team as reported on by the New York Times, would certainly be covered by the above requests … It is puzzling that you and your staff would blatantly deny the existence of such responsive documents or communications to Congress. It is implausible that there would be no internal communications by NARA employees regarding the subject matter of the letter to Mr. Corcoran, as your letter to us would indicate.”
Steidel Wall said in her response that her agency would provide information to the committee, “to the extent that we are able to release any additional records responsive to your request in the future, we will make them available to you.”