The Biden administration, months before the Mar-a-Lago raid, asked the federal agency in charge of keeping the nation’s records to let the FBI pore over documents from former President Donald Trump’s home, a newly disclosed letter shows.
The White House Counsel’s Office sent the request to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in April, acting Archivist Debra Wall later told Evan Corcoran, a lawyer for Trump.
“On April 11, 2022, the White House Counsel’s Office—affirming a request from the Department of Justice supported by an FBI letterhead memorandum—formally transmitted a request that NARA provide the FBI access to the 15 boxes for its review within seven days, with the possibility that the FBI might request copies of specific documents following its review of the boxes,” Wall said in the letter, which was first published by Just the News. NARA released a copy on Aug. 23.
The boxes were transferred to NARA in mid-January from Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida resort, after months of negotiations, NARA has said. David Ferriero, the archivist until May, previously told a House of Representatives panel that the boxes contained classified documents, although Trump has maintained he declassified the materials and cooperated with NARA.
Among the materials, according to Wall’s letter: over 100 documents, or more than 700 pages, with classification markings, including some with the highest levels of classification.
The Justice Department’s (DOJ) National Security Division informed Corcoran on April 29 that it had opened a criminal investigation, according to the letter, and that it sought access to the materials for the probe.
Access Granted, but Not Immediately
Trump’s lawyers asked for and received an extension of the production date, and NARA didn’t immediately give the FBI access to the materials. Corcoran, meanwhile, informed Wall that counsel needed more time to review the materials to see whether any were subject to Trump’s executive privilege, and that the letter should be considered “a protective assertion of executive privilege made by counsel for the former President.”