President Trump has not hesitated to hide the truth from the American public, and if he serves only one term, there is a very real prospect that his administration begins to destroy records on a much larger scale.

CREW sent a letter to the Archivist urging that in the event of a presidential transition, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) should take precautionary steps to ensure that the Trump administration complies with its legal obligations to preserve records. From reports of Trump ripping up documents once he is done with them to meetings with foreign leaders made secret at Trump’s request, there is reason to believe that Trump may ignore the law and destroy government records on a massive scale to prevent the public and congressional overseers from learning about his misconduct and abuses.

In May and June 2020, CREW requested records on the transition process from agencies on the process. However, the agencies have failed to turn over responsive documents, so CREW sued NARA and five other federal agencies for the records. This suggests that either the records are not being made, not being kept, or not being turned over. Each possibility is troubling. 

If NARA discovers the Trump administration is failing to adequately and accurately preserve its records, CREW urged NARA to immediately raise the alarm and notify Congress. 

Following record keeping laws allows us to preserve our nation’s history. Leaving these matters to the discretion of an unchecked president cannot be an option. With each passing day, we risk losing crucial documents and records about what the administration is doing and why. If a presidential transition is on the horizon, we may never have access to those records, unless NARA acts now.

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