The Biden administration authorized the FBI to examine 15 boxes containing classified information that the National Archives recovered from Mar-a-Lago earlier this year, a newly released letter reveals.
The revelation in a May 10 missive from Acting Archivist Debra Steidel Wall to Trump attorney Evan Corcoran — published Monday evening by JustTheNews — details how Biden escalated the investigation into his predecessor for allegedly mishandling information. government secrets.
According to Wall’s letter, the White House counsel’s office originally asked the National Archives on April 11 to “provide the FBI with access to the 15 boxes for its review within seven days.”
In response, according to Wall, Trump’s legal team sought to delay disclosure until April 29.
On that date, JustTheNews reported, Corcoran wrote to National Archives General Counsel Gary Stern, requesting that the release be further delayed “until we have had an opportunity to review the records and consult President Donald J. Trump so he can make any decisions personally. to claim constitutional privilege.
In the May 10 letter, Wall rejected that claim, writing that Supreme Court precedent “strongly suggests that a former president cannot successfully assert executive privilege” against the very executive branch in whose name the privilege is invoked “.”
Wall added that the Justice Department “has informed me that there is no precedent for an assertion of executive privilege by a former president against an incumbent president to prevent the latter from obtaining… records presidential records belonging to the federal government where ‘these records contain information which is necessary for the conduct of the day-to-day business of the office of the incumbent president and which is not otherwise available.
“I have therefore decided not to honor the former president’s request for ‘protective’ privilege,” Wall wrote, after clarifying that his letter bore Biden’s imprimatur: “The president’s counsel informed me that in light of the particular circumstances presented here, President Biden defers to my decision…as to whether or not I should uphold the former President’s so-called “protective assertion of executive privilege.”
“For the same reasons, I have concluded that there is no reason to grant your request for additional time before the FBI and other members of the intelligence community begin their examinations,” a- she told Corcoran. “Consequently, [the Archives] will provide the FBI with access to the records in question, as requested by the outgoing President, beginning Thursday, May 12, 2022.”
The National Archives and the White House did not immediately respond to the Post’s inquiry seeking clarification as to whether Biden had signed the initial April 11 memo from the White House attorney’s office.
Wall’s letter also reveals that the Archives and the DOJ were concerned about the amount of classified documents found in boxes returned in January.
The archivist said more than 700 pages of 100 documents bore “classification marks”, including some “up to the Top Secret level and including compartmentalized sensitive information and Special Access Program documents”.
“Access to the materials is not only necessary for the purposes of our ongoing criminal investigation, but the executive branch must also make an assessment of the potential harm resulting from the apparent manner in which these materials were stored and transported and take all necessary corrective action,” Wall said, citing the DOJ’s National Security Division. “‘As a result, we are seeking immediate access to these documents to facilitate the necessary assessments that need to be conducted within the executive branch.’ “
The day after Wall’s letter, May 11, a grand jury issued a subpoena for documents bearing classification marks that were still held by Trump. On June 3, DOJ and FBI officials arrived at Mar-a-Lago to retrieve relevant documents from Trump’s attorneys.
However, officials were led to believe the former president was storing even more classified documents, leading U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart to issue a search warrant at Trump’s estate on August 5.
FBI agents raided Mar-a-Lago three days later, seizing 27 boxes of material, including 11 sets of classified documents labeled top secret, secret or confidential, according to an inventory list later made public by Reinhart.
The Biden administration has insisted the president was unaware of the Mar-a-Lago raid until it happened.
“He learned it, really, like all of us. I’m sure someone on his team may have reported it for him, but he didn’t know about it,” press officer Karine Jean-Pierre said on August 9.
“What I can tell you definitively and with certainty: He was unaware of this. He was – we were – no one in the White House was. We weren’t tipped off and we didn’t know anything. what happened yesterday,” she added.
Attorney General Merrick Garland has since revealed that he personally approved the research
Trump has repeatedly lambasted the FBI investigation and filed a motion on Monday to block investigators from going through seized documents.
“We now request that the Department of ‘Justice’ be ordered to immediately STOP reviewing the documents unlawfully seized from my home. ALL documents have already been declassified,” the former president said shortly after the filing. of the request.
“The White House emphatically stated that they were NOT INVOLVED and knew absolutely nothing about the ongoing political witch hunt with me, and knew nothing at all about the Mar-a-Lago burglary” , Trump said in an article on Truth Social after Wall’s letter was published.
“It was strongly reiterated again and again. WRONG! Remember, these are the people who spied on my campaign, denied it, and got caught. Through John Solomon’s great reporting (fake Pulitzer Prize?), documents reveal they knew it all, in fact led the charge – a political NO, NO!