Director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro may have violated a key federal record-keeping law by deleting the Twitter account he used for official government business, creating a new account under a different name, and failing to disclose plans to ensure his tweets are properly archived. CREW sent a letter to the White House Counsel and the Archivist of the United States asking that they investigate.
The Presidential Records Act (PRA) requires that the White House archive all “presidential records” such as tweets from official White House accounts. Navarro’s decision to delete and launch a new account occurred on the same day that CREW filed a Hatch Act complaint against Navarro for repeatedly using his official title and platforms to make politically-charged statements in support of President Trump’s re-election, including with his Twitter account. His new account makes no reference to his official White House role and offers no disclaimer about whether his tweets will be archived.
“If there was ever a time we need to be sure essential White House records are being kept, this is it. Peter Navarro’s actions highlight just one of the many apparent gaps in the White House’s archiving policy. From failing to transcribe notes of meetings with foreign leaders to using platforms that automatically delete messages to operating shadow task forces outside the law, this administration has repeatedly shirked its obligations to keep meaningful records for the American people and for history,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder. “These laws exist so that we can get the full picture of what our elected and appointed officials have done, and Navarro’s actions warrant an investigation by the National Archives and Records Administration to ensure the preservation of all records from his Twitter accounts.”
The PRA requires the president and his staff to document, preserve and maintain records of “the activities, deliberations, decisions, and policies that reflect the performance of the President’s constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties.” There is no assurance that all presidential records from Navarro’s old account were properly preserved before he deleted it. And given that Navarro continues to tweet from his new account about matters relating to his official duties, just as he did from his old account, his tweets fall under the jurisdiction of the PRA and therefore must be archived. There is no indication, however, that the White House is doing that.