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Gifts, documents and letters: what was in the boxes that Donald Trump took from the White House without permission

The previous administration of the White House had a peculiar management of the presidential records that, by law, must be guarded by the National Archives once the president in office ends his term.

The problem with then President Donald Trump is that in addition to having a habit of shred essential documentation During the four years he led the country, he also took to his residence in Mar-a-Lago, Florida, fifteen boxes of documents and other items, including letters from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un or former President Barack Obama. , when he ceased to govern, as reported on Monday by the newspaper Washington Post.

After several months of tug-of-war with the Republican tycoon’s lawyers, the United States National Archives and Records Administration He recovered in January those boxes that were in Trump’s residence in Florida, three sources familiar with what happened told the Washington newspaper, and that they contained documentation that should have been duly filed after the Republican’s departure from the White House, when Joe Biden, in January 2021.

“In mid-January 2022, NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) arranged for the transportation from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida to the National Archives of 15 boxes containing presidential records,” the sources said. it’s a statement.

Letters from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un among recovered documents. Photo: AFP

Violation of the law?

This attitude of the former president raises questions about whether he could have violated the Presidential Records Act, which requires the preservation of these documents, although the ability of the National Archives to penalize those who violate the legislation is very limited.

When they leave office, US presidents must deliver all letters, notes, emails, and other written communications related to their official duties as president to the National Archives for preservation.

The boxes contained gifts, letters from world leaders and other correspondence, according to Trump advisers who spoke to the Post on condition of anonymity and who denied that the former president acted with malice.

Among the documents there correspondence exchanged with the North Korean leader during the process of rapprochement between the US and North Korea, and which Trump once described as “love letters”, as well as a letter left in the Oval Office by his predecessor, Barack Obama (2009-2017) .

A letter that former President Barack Obama left for Donald Trump was also among the boxes.  Photo: REUTERS

A letter that former President Barack Obama left for Donald Trump was also among the boxes. Photo: REUTERS

Taking away those boxes is not the only problem Trump has raised with the National Archives: the former president often tore up official documentswhich were sent to that US agency still in pieces or glued, indicates the Post.

Some of those torn-up and then taped-together documents were among those received last month by the House committee investigating the January 2021 assault on Capitol Hill.

“Among the presidential documents received by the National Archives were paper documents that had been torn up by former President Trump,” confirmed that commission in a statement released by the AFP agency.

Although all recent former presidents violated the Presidential Records Act in some way, the amount of documents Trump took away seems unprecedented, according to the sources consulted by the newspaper.

The law contemplates penalties of up to three years in prison for those who act maliciously when hiding or destroying documents, but proving that is difficult and the experts consulted by the Post see it as very unlikely that there will be consequences for Trump.



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