The FBI has revealed that it was searching for boxes of classified information from Donald Trump’s presidency during its raid of Mar-a-Lago. Trump now faces accusations of violating the Presidential Records Act, a law that was enacted in 1978 after former President Richard Nixon tried to claim his secret Oval Office tapes and other records were his ‘personal property.’
The law states that “the United States shall reserve and retain complete ownership, possession, and control of Presidential records.”
David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, said, “The Presidential Records Act is critical to our democracy, in which the government is held accountable by the people.”
However, while the Left is making it seem like this law is held sacred by our country’s leaders, presidential records are mostly kept hidden from the public for decades after the president leaves office.
The Nixon Library did not release all his secret tapes until 2013 – 39 years after Nixon left office. Similarly, the Lyndon B. Johnson Library delayed the release of his secret tapes until 2016, which was 47 years after he left office.
The Obama administration didn’t do things any differently, delaying the release of thousands of pages of records from Bill Clinton’s presidency. Barack Obama also had 30 million pages of records from his administration transported to Chicago, where he promised he would digitize them and put them online.
The Obama Foundation estimates that 95% of Obama administration records were “born digital,” meaning they could very easily be released online. And, in 2017, the Obama Foundation announced it would fund the digitization of the records that were not already digital. However, over five years after his presidency ended, the National Archives webpage shows that no pages have been digitized or disclosed yet.
While Americans are mostly prohibited from seeing official records from Obama’s presidency, Barack and Michelle Obama were advanced $65 million for their memoirs.
In 2011, Obama’s Justice Department proposed that federal agencies should be able to falsely claim that FOIA-requested documents didn’t exist. This recommendation was criticized as a law that would “permit federal law enforcement agencies to actively lie to the American people.”
So, while Obama touted his administration as “the most transparent” in history, it was really no more open than the Nixon administration in terms of government secrecy.
People are able to file requests under the Freedom of Information Act, but even getting a response from presidential libraries can take years, or more than a decade if the information is classified.
Donald Trump addressed this double standard on August 12, saying, “President Barack Hussein Obama kept 33 million pages of documents, much of them classified. How many of them pertained to nuclear? Word is, lots!”
Trump also asked whether federal agents would be “breaking into Obama’s ‘mansion’ in Martha’s Vineyard.”
However, The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), responded to Trump’s statements, saying that “former President Obama has no control over where and how NARA stores the presidential records of his administration,” and that NARA has “assumed exclusive legal and physical custody of Obama presidential records when President Barack Obama left office in 2017.”
The Justice Department has yet to reveal what documents it confiscated at Mar-a-Lago and what, if any, legal charges may be filed.