Electronic records from Trump White House staff are missing, National Archives reports

Then-President Trump pictured from the shoulders up, gesturing while speaking in front of a White House logo.
The National Archives told the House Committee on Oversight and Reform in a letter Friday that nearly two years later, it’s still missing a number of electronic communications from the White House staff of former President Trump, pictured in 2020.
(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

The National Archives and Records Administration informed lawmakers that a number of electronic communications from Trump White House staffers remain missing, nearly two years since the administration was required to turn them over.

The federal government’s record-keeping agency, in a letter Friday to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, said that despite an ongoing effort by staff, the electronic communications of certain unidentified White House officials were still not in its their custody.

“While there is no easy way to establish absolute accountability, we do know that we do not have custody of everything we should,” Debra Steidel Wall, the acting U.S. archivist, wrote in a letter to Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.).


The letter went on to specify that the National Archives would consult with the Justice Department about how to move forward and recover “the records unlawfully removed.”

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Oct. 1, 2022

It has been widely reported that officials in President Trump’s White House used unofficial electronic messaging accounts throughout his four years in office. The Presidential Records Act, which says 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 it has been able to obtain these records from some former officials, but that a number remain outstanding.

The Justice Department has already pursued records from one former Trump official, Peter Navarro, who prosecutors accused of using at least one “non-official” email account — a ProtonMail account — to send and receive emails while he worked as the president’s trade advisor.

The legal action came in August, just weeks after Navarro was indicted on criminal charges after refusing to cooperate with a congressional investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The House Oversight Committee has jurisdiction over the Presidential Records Act, a 1978 law that requires the preservation of White House documents as property of the U.S. government.


Friday’s letter is the latest development in a months-long back-and-forth between the agency and the committee, which has been investigating Trump’s handling of records.

The letter also comes nearly two months after the FBI recovered over 100 documents with classified markings and more than 10,000 other government documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. Lawyers for Trump had provided a sworn certification that all government records had been returned.

Maloney and other Democrats on the panel have been seeking a briefing from the National Archives, but haven’t received one due to the Justice Department’s ongoing criminal investigation into the matter.