The National Archives alerted lawyers for former President Donald Trump in May 2021 that Trump’s letters with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un – and two dozen boxes of documents – were missing, according to new correspondence released Monday by the National Archives. Archives.
Gary Stern, general counsel for the National Archives and Records Administration, wrote to former Trump White House attorneys Patrick Philbin, Mike Purpura and Scott Gast on May 6, 2021, alerting them that the letters Trump had exchanged with Kim and the letter he had received from his predecessor, President Barack Obama, was missing, according to correspondence released Monday in response to dozens of Freedom of Information Act requests.
In the email, Stern requested the help of attorneys to ensure that the archives receive all presidential records as required by law.
“We also understand that approximately two dozen boxes of original presidential records were kept in the White House residence during President Trump’s last year in office and were not transferred to NARA, despite a decision by Pat Cipollone in the last days of the administration that they must be,” Stern wrote. “I had also raised this concern with Scott over the past few weeks.”
CNN previously reported that the Archives worked throughout 2021 to obtain Trump’s presidential records.
Correspondence released Monday provides additional details showing how the Archives engaged with Trump’s team for months before he handed over 15 boxes of material in January that had been housed at Trump’s Mar-a resort. -The girlfriend.
In the May 2021 letter to Trump’s representatives that was made public on Monday, Stern wrote that there were “certain paper/textual documents that we cannot consider,” citing Trump’s letters with Kim and Barack Obama.
“For example, the original correspondence between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was not transferred to us; we understand that in January 2021, just prior to the end of administration, the originals were placed in a filing cabinet for the President, but were never returned to the Office of Records Management for transfer to the NARA,” he wrote.
Stern added that Obama’s letter was also missing, noting that presidential libraries of other presidents’ archives maintain copies of similar letters. “We need this one too,” he wrote.
The Archives noted that they are also seeking electronic records from the Trump administration. The Archives said in a letter to the House Oversight Committee on Friday that it still does not have all of the documents required from the Trump administration because officials were using personal emails to conduct official business. from the government and did not turn them over as required by law.
Documents turned over by Trump earlier this year included numerous classified documents, prompting the Archives to refer the matter to the Justice Department.
But the Archives withheld the vast majority of correspondence from public release — more than 1,000 pages — citing FOIA exemptions, including ongoing Justice Department investigations and the Archives’ own deliberations with law enforcement officials. Trump.
In a letter to American Oversight, one of the groups seeking documents from the Archives, the agency wrote that it had located 309 pages of documents related to correspondence with Trump officials through March 31. 2022. The Archives released 11 pages and withheld 298 pages, including 295 pages the agency said were withheld due to potential interference with law enforcement.
The Archives also identified 1,303 pages of emails between Archives officials and other entities, such as offices of Congress. The agency released 54 pages from that cache, including correspondence with the House Oversight Committee, while it withheld 1,249 pages citing its own deliberations and 1,073 pages due to law enforcement.
The National Archives previously said at least 15 boxes of White House documents were recovered from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in January – some of which were classified. And in its August 8 search, the FBI recovered 11 sets of classified documents, including some documents marked as “top secret/SCI” – one of the highest classification levels.
The Washington Post reported on Monday that after this batch of documents was recovered, Trump asked one of his lawyers, Alex Cannon, in February to tell the Archives that all of the requested documents had been returned.
Cannon refused to do so due to doubts about whether other requested documents could still be at Mar-a-Lago, a decision supported by other Trump advisers, people familiar with the matter told The Post. .
Trump had asked his team to release a similar statement he dictated that he had returned “all” of the wanted records, but it was not released due to similar concerns, according to the Post.
A statement from Trump’s team eventually released on February 10 and reported by CNN at the time did not say that all of the documents had been handed over, but rather said the boxes were given “on a very friendly basis.”
This story has been updated with additional details.