Washington – An official who works for National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) warned Donald Trump’s legal team in May 2021 that the archives were missing numerous records from the Trump White House that needed to be returned urgently, according to a letter released by the Archives on Monday following a Freedom of Information Act request.

On May 6, 2021, NARA General Counsel Gary Stern wrote to Trump’s team of lawyers, including Patrick Philbin and Michael Purpur, informing them that “approximately two dozen boxes of original presidential records” from Trump’s time in office that were once stored in the White House the house has not yet been returned to the archive.

Other missing records included “original correspondence” between Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and a letter that then-President Barack Obama left for Trump during the 2017 presidential transition — per White House tradition.

Trump told the New York Times reporter about it Maggie Haberman in an interview for his upcoming book Confidence Man that he has “great stuff” from his time in the White House, including Kim’s letters, according to audio posted on CNN. When Haberman asked specifically about Kim Jong-un’s letters, Trump said, “No, I think they have… I think it’s in the archives, but most of it is in the archives. But Kim Jong-un’s letters, we have incredible things. incredible letters with other leaders.’

US President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met in the demilitarized zone of Korea
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two Koreas in Panmunjom, South Korea, June 30, 2019.


“We know things have been very chaotic, as they always are during single-term transitions,” Stern wrote, “but it is absolutely imperative that we obtain and account for all of the President’s original records.”

The letter said former Trump White House adviser Pat Cipollone made the decision that relevant records should be turned over to NARA in the final days of the Trump administration.

Stern’s letter was also addressed to Scott Gast, a Washington, D.C., attorney who, like Philbin, served as deputy White House counsel. Stern wrote that NARA has already worked with Gast to “seize the president’s social media records,” so they are reaching out to him and his former colleagues for more help.

Philbin, Purpura and Gast did not immediately respond to CBS News’ request for comment. The former president has consistently maintained that he has done nothing wrong and has accused NARA of being a “radical left-wing group of people.” He told Fox News last month that “when you send documents out there, I would say there’s a very good chance that a lot of those documents will never be seen again.”

The newly released correspondence sheds light on the archives’ efforts to fully recover what it says are missing White House records from the Trump team before eventually turning the case over to the Justice Department for investigation. The correspondence was followed by a nearly 15-month tug-of-war between the archive, Trump and federal prosecutors, which culminated on August 8 with the execution of a federal search warrant at Trump’s Florida home.

Despite the Archives announcing in May 2021 that approximately 24 boxes of Trump White House records were not being released, as of January 18, 2022, only 15 boxes had been recovered from Trump’s Florida residence.

“In mid-January 2022, NARA arranged for the transportation from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property in Florida to the National Archives of 15 boxes containing presidential papers, following discussions with President Trump’s representatives in 2021,” the archives said in a statement. statement weeks later“Representatives of former President Trump told NARA that they are continuing to search for additional presidential records held by the National Archives.”

The missing records case was referred to the Justice Department for investigation in February, and according to NARA, the 15 boxes originally collected at Mar-a-Lago were turned over to the FBI by the archives and President Biden in May, overriding Trump’s multiple objections.

On May 11, 2022, a grand jury issued a subpoena alleging Trump’s possession of “classified documents” at Mar-a-Lago as part of an FBI investigation into alleged mishandling of the documents. By June, investigators had collected even more records, and a Trump spokesman allegedly signed a statement saying all classified material had been removed from Mar-a-Lago.

Prosecutors said in a court filing that the FBI later received evidence that its investigation may have been hampered after relevant records were “likely hidden and removed from” the storage location. And by August 5, 2022, nearly 15 months after Stern’s May 2021 letter, the FBI obtained a court-sanctioned search warrant to seize any relevant Mar-a-Lago property related to the investigation, which is due in three days .

The warrant produced 33 boxes of materials and records, including more than 100 classified documents and 48 empty folders with classified banners, according to the Justice Department.

Prosecutors have said in court documents and at hearings that they are now the focus of a national security investigation.

The archive said Friday that it still believes the records from the Trump White House are missing. In a letter to House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, Acting Archivist of the United States Debra Steidel Wall wrote, “While there is no easy way to establish absolute responsibility, we know that we do not have custody of all that we should.” She specifically pointed out that, according to NARA, former officials used unofficial email accounts to conduct government business without forwarding or copying correspondence to their government addresses.In one notable case, the Justice Department sued Trump adviser Peter Navarro to restore emails from his time in the White House Navarro has pleaded not guilty.

“Regarding … the question of whether former President Trump has turned over all presidential documents,” Wall wrote, “we respectfully refer you to the Department of Justice in light of the ongoing investigation.”