Trump White House didn’t preserve social media records, National Archives warns

President Trump and Melania Trump descend stairs from Air Force One.
Then President Trump and his wife, Melania Trump, in December 2020.
(Associated Press)

The Trump White House did not preserve the former president’s social media accounts, the national archivist told Congress on Friday, warning lawmakers that some of the missing records may not be retrievable.

“The Trump Administration did not fully capture, and therefore NARA did not receive, all of the Presidential records created by Trump and White House staff that were posted on social media platforms,” Archivist David Ferriero wrote in a letter to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. Ferriero said in the letter that he was asking the committee’s advice as required under the Presidential Records Act when presidential records are destroyed or disposed of without the archivist’s input.

Ferriero also wrote in a separate letter that 15 boxes of presidential records recently recovered from former President Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., contained classified information, and that the National Archives has been in touch with the Justice Department on the matter. Ferriero’s letter confirmed earlier media reports about possible classified information found there, and reports that some presidential records had been torn into pieces.


An email seeking comment from Trump’s post-presidency office about the social media postings was not immediately answered.

Ferriero said the National Archives received Trump’s electronic presidential records in November 2021 and has been working with the various social media companies in the months since to retrieve the missing records, which include Twitter messages and other social media posts deleted by Trump or White House staff from his personal and official accounts.

The Presidential Records Act requires the preservation of any material created or used in the course of a president’s official duties. Some of Trump’s social media postings may not have qualified.

The Congressional Research Service says anyone who engages in the “unlawful removal or destruction of government records” is subject to punishment.

Feb. 11, 2022

But not all records have been retrievable and could be permanently lost. Ferriero said that the White House did not preserve the contents of Trump’s Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat accounts, which were taken down in 2021. Facebook, which owns Instagram, and Snapchat have not been able to provide access to the deleted information, Ferriero said.

“While we do have access to copies of deleted tweets collected by other nongovernmental sources, we do not consider them as official presidential records and cannot ensure the completeness of their captured account data,” Ferriero said.

In the letter, Ferriero noted that the National Archives reminded the Trump administration in March 2017 that it was required to preserve as presidential records all social media posted in the course of his official duties from both his personal @realDonaldTrump account and the official @POTUS account, including deleted tweets or posts.


Biden orders the National Archives to give Trump’s White House visitor records to the House panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol.

Feb. 16, 2022

Ferriero said the National Archives learned once Trump left office that White House officials initially captured deleted tweets by copying them from nongovernment organizations that were tracking them and did not begin using the vendor ArchiveSocial to automatically collect the information until his second year in office.

Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) said the committee will continue to investigate and potentially reform the records act to prevent future abuses. “These new revelations deepen my concern about former President Trump’s flagrant disregard for federal records laws and the potential impact on our historical record,” she said in a statement.

The Twitter account @realDonaldTrump was disconnected from ArchiveSocial in April 2020, Ferriero said. Twitter was able to recover some of the tweets sent in the months before Trump’s account was suspended in January 2021 but could not recover deleted tweets.

The Trump White House did not attempt to capture content from other Trump administration accounts, including those of advisors Ivanka Trump, Kayleigh McEnany, Kellyanne Conway, Mark Meadows and Peter Navarro. Also, direct messages to or from Trump’s personal account and private accounts and the other accounts were not preserved.