A Trump adviser said the former president’s reluctance to relinquish the records stems from his belief that many items created during his term — photos, notes, even a model of Air Force One built to show off a new paint job he had commissioned — are now his personal property, despite a law dating to the 1970s that decreed otherwise.
“He gave them what he believed was theirs,” the adviser said.
“He gets his back up every time they asked him for something,” said another Trump adviser. “He didn’t give them the documents because he didn’t want to. He doesn’t like those people. He doesn’t trust those people.”
John F. Kelly, Trump’s former chief of staff, said the former president had long exhibited a lack of respect for the strict rules for document handling sacred to the intelligence community, which is in the business of guarding the country’s national security.
“His sense was that the people who are in the intel business are incompetent, and he knew better,” Kelly said. “He didn’t believe in the classification system.”
Former national security adviser John Bolton said “almost nothing would surprise me about what’s in the documents at Mar-a-Lago.” He recalled that Trump would at times ask to keep the highly classified visual aids, pictures, charts and graphs prepared to augment his presidential daily brief, a document presented to him each day about key pressing issues, which he did not typically read.
“People were nervous enough about his lack of concern for classification matters that the briefers typically said, ‘Well, we need to take it back,’ ” Bolton said. “He’d usually give it back — but sometimes he wouldn’t give it back.”
Advisers said they also regularly saw Trump destroy documents, both in the White House and at Mar-a-Lago. [Continue reading…]
For the first two centuries of U.S. history, outgoing presidents simply took their documents with them when they left the White House. The materials were considered their personal property.
But for the past four decades, every presidential document — from notebook doodles to top-secret security plans — is supposed to go directly to the National Archives as the material is considered the property of the American people.
So when former President Donald Trump left office on Jan. 20, 2021, all his records should have traveled from the White House to the National Archives, according to Jason R. Baron, who served as director of litigation at the National Archives for 13 years.
“No president has the right to retain presidential records after he or she leaves office,” Baron said. “And so it is an extraordinary circumstance if presidential records are found in a former president’s residence or anywhere else under his control.” [Continue reading…]