On Friday, the National Archives and Records Administration confirmed that it had found classified material in boxes of White House documents which former President Donald Trump inappropriately took to Mar-a-Lago.
"NARA has identified items that are classified national security information in the boxes," which were returned from Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort by Archivist David S. Ferriero, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform was informed.
According to the agency, Trump has returned 15 boxes of documents that were taken from him in error. The oversight committee launched an investigation earlier this month into the records taken from the White House in 2016 by the former president.
When asked by Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who chairs the oversight panel, if Trump's actions had been reported to the U.S. attorney general's office, Ferriero replied: "Because NARA classified information was in the boxes, NARA staff have been in communication with Department of Justice."
Maloney sent Ferriero a email last week in which she expressed concern that the records hadn't been given to her agency quickly at the end Trump's administration. Maloney wrote that the records appeared to have been removed by the White House in violation the Presidential Records Act (PRA).
The New York Times reported that some boxes contained classified information. The Washington Post also reported that they contained documents at the "top secret” level.
Ferreiro stated in his letter that the records agency was still "inventoring the contents of boxes, which will be completed by February 25."
Trump, who regularly criticized Hillary Clinton over allegedly mishandling classified data during the 2016 election said last week that he had done nothing wrong.
He stated that the papers were handed out quickly and without conflict, and on a friendly basis. This is different to the fake news media accounts. It was actually routine and "no big deal". However, I was told that I wasn't under any obligation to provide this material due to various legal rulings over the years.
The Presidential Records Act requires that all presidential records be properly preserved. A complete set of records should then be transferred to the National Archives at end of each administration.
In a statement, the Archives stated that it had recovered the documents. It also said that it had "arranged for transport from Trump Mar-a-Lago property, Florida, to the National Archives 15 boxes that contained Presidential records. This was after discussions with President Trump's representatives.
Ferriero wrote to Maloney that the agency had "asked the representatives of former President Trump continue to search for additional Presidential records that were not transferred to NARA as required under the Presidential Records Act."
Ferriero responded that he knew of no other records not turned over by Trump's administration. He said that the agency had identified "certain social media records" that Trump Administration did not capture and preserve.
He said that the agency also learned that White House staff used non-official electronic message accounts for official business. These accounts were not copied or sent to their official electronic messaging accounts as required.
Ferriero stated that the agency had "already obtained or is currently in the process of obtaining some records," but didn't provide further details.