Take Another Look, Archives Asks Former Presidents

Letter asks administrations dating to Reagan's to recheck for classified records
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 26, 2023 7:25 PM CST
Take Another Look, Archives Asks Former Presidents
The north face of the Archives of the United States is seen in 2019.   (AP Photo/Mark Tenally, File)

The National Archives has asked former US presidents and vice presidents to recheck their personal records for any classified documents they might inadvertently have kept, following the discovery of such records in the possession of former President Donald Trump, President Biden and former Vice President Mike Pence. The Archives sent a letter Thursday to representatives of former presidents and vice presidents extending back to Ronald Reagan to ensure compliance with the Presidential Records Act, according to a copy obtained by the AP. The act states that any records created or received by the president are the property of the US government and will be managed by the Archives at the end of an administration. It took effect after President Jimmy Carter left office.

The Archives sent the letter to representatives of former Presidents Donald Trump, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan, as well as to former Vice Presidents Pence, Biden, Dick Cheney, Al Gore, and Dan Quayle. "Responsibility to comply with the Presidential Records Act "does not diminish after the end of an administration," the Archives wrote. "Therefore, we request that you conduct an assessment of any materials held outside of (the Archives) that relate to the administration for which you serve as a designated representative." That includes classified and unclassified information, the letter says.

The offices of most former presidents didn't comment, but Freddy Ford, chief of staff for George W. Bush, thanked the Archives for the note and said Bush staffers "remain confident that no such materials are in our possession." The mishandling of classified information has been an issue for years, per the AP, involving not just presidents but Cabinet and staff members. "We have had for quite a number of years any number of mishandling investigations," FBI Director Christopher Wray said Thursday. "That is unfortunately a regular part of our counterintelligence division’s and counterintelligence program's work.” (More classified information stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.