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House committee asks National Archives to review Trump storage unit

The House Oversight Committee sent a letter to the National Archives on Tuesday requesting a review to determine whether former president Donald Trump has retained any additional presidential records at his storage facility in Florida.

The request from the committee’s chairwoman, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), follows a report from The Washington Post that at least two items marked classified were found by an outside team hired by Trump to search a storage unit, along with at least two of his properties, after his legal team was pressed by a federal judge to attest that it had fully complied with a May grand jury subpoena to turn over all materials bearing classified markings.

According to the letter obtained by The Post, Maloney expressed concern to acting archivist Debra Steidel Wall that Trump’s storage facility and other properties “may contain presidential records that were not the focus of the search and therefore have not been turned over to the federal government.”

“This inquiry, which is separate from the Department of Justice’s ongoing criminal investigation into Mr. Trump’s actions, seeks to understand the full extent and impact of former President Trump’s violations of the [Presidential Records Act] in order to ‘determine what additional steps, including potential legislative reforms, may be needed to ensure the preservation of presidential records for the American people,’” Maloney wrote.

Whether Maloney’s investigation will gain traction is unclear. She has about two weeks left as the committee’s chair before the Republicans take over the House in 2023.

The recovery of classified information in the former president’s possession has been the focus of federal agents and prosecutors who are reviewing classified documents taken from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and private club, leaving a gap in accountability for other papers, documents, objects and materials covered by the law that requires Trump to preserve all records pertaining to his official duties as president.

It is unclear whether the outside team contracted by Trump searched for unclassified presidential records. A spokesperson for Trump did not respond to a request for comment.

The storage unit in West Palm Beach, Fla., where at least two items marked classified were discovered contained a mélange of gifts, boxes and suits and other items of clothing, according to a person familiar with the contents of the unit, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information.

“It was suits and swords and wrestling belts and all sorts of things,” this person said. “To my knowledge, [Trump] has never even been to that storage unit. I don’t think anyone in Trump World could tell you what’s in that storage unit.”

Occasionally, another person familiar with the matter said, Trump aides would go to the facility to look for particular things.

During Trump’s chaotic exit from the White House, there were several pallet deliveries to Mar-a-Lago and Florida, according to a staffer involved in the deliveries. Other deliveries went downstairs into the “catacombs” of Mar-a-Lago, this person said.

“Some of the pallets went to the club, and some of them came to the storage unit,” this person said. “People don’t realize there was a conglomerate network of catacombs under there.”

In a court-approved search in August, FBI agents found more than 100 classified documents that had not been returned in response to the May grand jury subpoena. Some of them contained extremely sensitive information, including about Iran’s missile program, China and a foreign country’s nuclear capabilities.

Previously, the National Archives retrieved 15 boxes of materials from Trump after it came to believe that some presidential records from the Trump administration — from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un — were unaccounted for and perhaps in Trump’s possession.

One person who was directly involved in handling some of the materials said there was never any sort of cataloguing or an inventory of the boxes that arrived from the White House after the end of the administration.

“No one went through any of it that I know of,” this person said. “I can promise you this, there is absolutely no semblance of organization or cataloguing or whatever.”

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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