In the ongoing investigation into allegations that he improperly handled classified material, former President Donald Trump has shifted the onus of responsibility for the investigation back onto the organization that is responsible for maintaining such records.
The National Archives and Records Administration workers allegedly turned down President Trump’s request for assistance in packing up his belongings because of the “overtly political” nature of their work, as reported by The Washington Times on Saturday. President Trump was preparing to leave office in January 2021.
And as a direct result of their refusal to assist the Republican president, Donald Trump was unaware that he was transporting classified information to his home in Mar-a-Lago.
This line of reasoning was recently presented to members of Congress by Trump’s legal staff. Even if sensitive papers have been discovered in the home and offices of President Joe Biden, according to The New York Times, Congress wants a new law to solve the problem that has pushed criminal charges against Trump for mishandling confidential data.
The Times observed that the scenario has promoted criminal accusations against Trump for mishandling classified documents.
Tim Parlatore, one of President Trump’s attorneys, sent a letter to the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Turner, in which he stated that the National Archives “unfortunately has become overtly political and declined to provide archival assistance to President Trump’s transition team.”
According to the Times, Parlatore claimed that Trump would have accepted an offer from the personnel at the National Archives to assist pack his office, and as a result, “there would have been no reason to transfer the documents to Mar-a-Lago.”
In addition, according to Parlatore’s argument, the White House does not follow any established protocols when it comes to the management of classified information, which is why new legislation is required.
According to Parlatore, a statute of this kind would “prevent the [Justice Department] from continuing to conduct ham-handed criminal investigations of matters that are inherently not criminal.”
The allegation that Trump’s case with the records is political was further supported by the Times, which pointed out that Attorney General Merrick Garland named special counsel Jack Smith, a Democrat, to conduct the inquiry the day after Trump declared that he would run for election in 2024.
In continuation, the Times mentioned that Parlatore’s letter effectively alleged that Trump’s staff “simply swept all documents from the President’s desk and other areas into boxes, where they have resided ever since.”
The National Archives denies the allegations made by Parlatore that Trump was offered assistance. This information was reported by The Times. However, it appears that the agency did not participate in the process of deciding which items should be packed up as Trump was leaving office.
Gary Stern, the general counsel for the National Archives, testified before Congress that the organization merely offered “logistical” assistance to the Trump administration.
According to a representative for the agency, the National Archives follows the directives given to them by the White House and the National Security Council when situations like this arise.
In a response to the Times, Congressman Turner pointed out that archivists have testified that every government since Ronald Reagan has handed to their boxes with a mix of classified and unclassified materials. This was mentioned in the congressman’s statement.
“There’s been mishandling with a history that goes all the way back to the Reagan administration,” Turner remarked. “We’re looking at how do we change the laws, how do we change the rules, and how do we address this so it doesn’t affect future administrations and it certainly shouldn’t affect these two.”