The House Oversight Committee asked the National Archives on Tuesday to determine whether former President Donald Trump needs to turn over additional documents following an Aug. 8 FBI raid on his Florida home to retrieve classified records.
The panel, led by outgoing Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), asked the Archives to make Trump certify in writing that he no longer has any records — which could open him to false-statements charges — and to vet whether there are more missing papers.
“In light of the serious risk that Mr. Trump may still be retaining sensitive government records at Mar-a-Lago or his other properties, I urge NARA to seek a personal certification from Donald Trump that he has surrendered all presidential records that he illegally removed from the White House after leaving office,” Maloney wrote to acting archivist Debra Wall.
“I also ask that the agency conduct an urgent review of presidential records recovered from the Trump White House to assess whether presidential records remain unaccounted for and potentially in the possession of the former president.”
Maloney added that Archives staff “recently informed the Committee that the agency is not certain whether all presidential records are in its custody.”
The FBI’s unprecedented raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach followed a dispute over the status of documents transferred from the White House in the chaotic final days of Trump’s presidency in January 2021.
According to the authorities, highly classified documents were retrieved during the raid. Trump asserts that he declassified those documents, but experts say that the ex-president still could be prosecuted for mishandling national defense information.
Trump says the raid is part of a long-running “witch hunt” against him that began with the FBI’s 2016 investigation into whether his campaign colluded with Russia. That investigation spanned more than half of his presidency and ended with a special counsel report that found no evidence of a conspiracy.
Trump’s legal team clashed with officials ahead of the raid on Mar-a-Lago and in June signed a document saying the ex-president’s team had completed a “diligent search” for secret records.
The FBI found “twice as many documents with classification markings as the ‘diligent search,’” prosecutors said in a court filing, “[which] calls into serious question the representations made in the June 3 certification and casts doubt on the extent of cooperation in this matter.”
But Trump allies question whether the markings on documents were accurate — and the matter may never be settled in public.
Frederick Fleitz, who worked 19 years at the CIA and as chief of staff at the White House National Security Council under Trump, told The Post in a recent interview that it’s common for officials to use cover sheets that exceed the actual classification of records.
Fleitz said a government-released photo showing cover sheets marked “Top Secret” doesn’t necessarily mean much.
“I had a drawer full of cover sheets [at the White House],” Fleitz said. “And when I would have to give a document, when I was at the NSC, to someone in an adjoining office, I would staple a cover sheet on the document. And if I ran out of Secret sheets, I might staple a Top Secret sheet to a document. I’m not saying that happened here. But what I’m seeing are cover sheets. I don’t know what’s under them.”
Experts say Trump could still be prosecuted even if the records aren’t currently classified.
Kel McClanahan, an attorney who represents clients in civil matters dealing with security clearances and classified documents, said “everybody talks about him declassifying information, [but] the Espionage Act does not deal with classified information. It deals with this thing called national defense information, which is not classified. It’s just information related to the national defense, which is an extraordinarily broad definition, but that definition has held up for 100 years in Supreme Court challenges. So he can declassify all he wants. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s NDI.”
Jesselyn Radack, an attorney who has defended government workers, including prominent whistleblowers, accused of mishandling classified records, told The Post recently that “I represent clients who blew the whistle on the FBI, so I don’t take what they say at face value.”
But Radack added, “the unsealed search warrant and partially redacted supporting affidavit reveal that Trump has mishandled national defense information, whether classified or not, at an order of magnitude greater than my clients.”