Following the permanent suspension of President Trump’s @realDonaldTrump Twitter account, the public needs to know that Trump’s tweets and direct messages were preserved consistent with the Presidential Records Act. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is responsible for preservation of all presidential records, which includes Trump’s tweets which he used as his primary—and often misleading—form of communication with the public. In 2017, NARA reportedly “told the White House to keep each of President Donald Trump’s tweets, even those he deletes or corrects.” While the White House agreed to preserve these records, it remains unclear whether the Trump White House is using a functional automated archival system, as the Obama White House did, to appropriately meet this mandate.
CREW has requested NARA records on systems in place for the collection, preservation and management of federal records and presidential records created or stored using accounts created on Twitter. Specifically, CREW has requested communications between NARA and three groups: within NARA senior leadership, with Twitter employees, and with Congressional members and staff on the House Oversight or Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committees.
The presidential transition process is ripe for the loss of important records, especially in an administration that has repeatedly destroyed records and has attempted to disrupt a peaceful transfer of power by denying Biden’s win. There needs to be an accurate record of Trump’s statements on Twitter, which Trump and other senior Trump aides have used as both an outlet for corruption and white supremacy and a place to announce official policy and broadcast anti-democratic messages.