Wall’s letter describes earlier correspondence in which Trump’s team objected to the release of the contents of the 15 boxes to the FBI.
“As you are no doubt aware, NARA had ongoing communications with the former President’s representatives throughout 2021 regarding what appeared to be missing from the Presidential Records, resulting in the transfer of 15 boxes of records. at NARA in January 2022,” Wall wrote. “During its initial review of the documents contained in these boxes, NARA identified the items marked as National Security Classified Information, up to the Top Secret level and including sensitive compartmented information and access program documents. special.”
NARA aides did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter, and Corcoran could not immediately be reached.
Correspondence shows that although NARA recovered the 15 boxes in January, Justice Department and FBI investigators did not see their contents until May, after lengthy negotiations with Trump officials. The letter also shows that in the meantime, the DOJ asked President Joe Biden to allow NARA to provide the records to investigators despite Trump’s efforts to claim executive privilege over the records. Wall said she denied Trump’s request because of the documents’ national security significance.
“NARA notified the Department of Justice of this discovery, prompting the Department to request the President to instruct NARA to provide the FBI with access to the boxes in question so that the FBI and other members of the community intelligence can examine them,” Wall wrote. .
Biden, according to Wall, then delegated the privilege decision to him, in consultation with the Justice Department.
Wall noted that typical restrictions on access to presidential records provide an exception for incumbent administrations. And she described an April 29 letter from the DOJ’s National Security Division describing their search for these documents: “There are significant national security interests within the FBI and other members of the intelligence community. who have access to these 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,” according to the DOJ letter. “As a result, we are seeking immediate access to these records to facilitate the necessary assessments that need to be conducted within the executive branch.”
Wall said the Archives informed Trump on April 12 of the FBI’s “urgency” to review the documents, but delayed their release at the request of Trump’s team.
“It has now been four weeks since we first informed you of our intention to provide the FBI with access to the boxes so that it and other members of the intelligence community could conduct their examinations,” Wall wrote. “Notwithstanding the urgency conveyed by the Department of Justice and the reasonable extension granted to the former president, your letter of April 29 requests additional time to review the items contained in the boxes” to determine whether a specific document is subject to privilege”, and then to consult with the former president “so that he can personally make any decision to assert a claim of constitutional privilege”.
Wall said she consulted with the Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Legal Counsel and decided not to honor that request.
“The issue in this case is not close,” she wrote.
“The executive branch here is seeking access to records belonging to and in the custody of the federal government, not only to investigate whether those records were unlawfully handled, but also, as explained by the Division of national security, to “Carry out an assessment of the potential damage resulting from the apparent manner in which these materials have been stored and transported and take any necessary corrective measures.