Remember when it came out that, in addition to regularly shredding presidential documents and possibly trying to flush some down the toilet, Donald Trump had absconded to Mar-a-Lago with numerous presidential records, some of which were marked “top secret”? As it turns out, the Department of Justice believes that’s worth looking into.
The Washington Post reports that the DOJ “has begun taking steps to investigate former president Donald Trump’s removal of presidential records,” according to people familiar with the matter. The probe is said to be in “very early stages,” and it remains unclear if officials have reviewed the materials or interviewed people with knowledge of them. The Justice Department is reportedly in contact with the National Archives, which retrieved 15 boxes of records from Mar-a-Lago in January. Asked about the matter earlier this year, Attorney General Merrick Garland said the DOJ would “do what we always do under these circumstances—look at the facts and the law and take it from there.” A spokesperson for the FBI told the Post, “We can neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation.” Trump’s spokesman has, of course, previously claimed that “anonymous, politically motivated government sources” are simply trying to take down the ex-president by trafficking in “fake news.”
As we learned in February, it was the Archives that uncovered the fact that Trump had helped himself to documents that weren’t his to take. In addition to the top secret material, he also took some mementos: the infamous doctored hurricane map and what, in his own words, were the “love letters” he had exchanged while in office with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. (Given his affection for despots, you can see how these would be important to him.) Shortly before that, it had come out that Trump had also spent his presidency consistently shredding documents that were meant to be preserved and turned over to the Archives without issue. “The ripping was so relentless that Trump’s team implemented protocols to try to ensure that he was abiding by the Presidential Records Act,” the Post reported at the time. Said protocols apparently involved “aides from either the Office of the Staff Secretary or the Oval Office Operations team [coming] in behind Trump to retrieve the piles of torn paper he left in his wake,” with White House Office of Records Management staff then painstakingly “jigsawing the documents back together, using clear tape.” A source familiar with the matter told the Post that Archives employees were “stunned at how many papers they received from the Trump administration that were ripped,” calling it “unprecedented.”
So yeah, it’s nice to hear the DOJ is looking into all this, though, as with most things related to the 45th president, it probably wouldn’t be wise to get any hopes up that he’ll actually be held accountable.
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