Former Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro likely failed to turn over a substantial number of Trump White House records as required by law. The National Archives and Records Administration should take immediate action to recover any presidential records he still possesses, according to a letter sent today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis recently found that Navarro may still possess records in his personal email accounts that may not have been transferred to NARA, despite him being required by law to transfer those records to the agency. Navarro and other Trump White House officials used personal email accounts to communicate about the government’s coronavirus response. Trump White House guidance previously warned staff that “[a]ny employee who intentionally fails to take these actions may be subject to administrative or even criminal penalties.”
“It appears that Peter Navarro openly defied his responsibilities as a public official to turn over government records that are of vital importance to the public in understanding how the Trump administration responded to the pandemic,” said CREW President Noah Bookbinder. “Navarro’s use of personal email to conduct official government business and apparent failure to transfer those emails to NARA is likely a violation of federal law and certainly a violation of public trust. NARA must take immediate action to collect these documents.”
The Presidential Records Act mandates that after a president leaves office, all presidential records from the administration must be turned over to the Archivist.
Navarro has refused to share key documents with Congress “based on former President Trump’s invocation of executive privilege with respect to the very topic covered by the Subpoena.” Navarro did not deny that he routinely used his personal email accounts for official White House business. The PRA prohibited Navarro from creating or sending Presidential records using “non-official electronic messaging accounts” unless he timely and completely preserved the records in an official White House account.
“Given Peter Navarro’s significant involvement in the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic and ongoing concern about that response, it is imperative that we have a full accounting of what went on behind closed doors,” said Bookbinder.