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Torn-up Trump papers, missing Obama and Kim Jong Un letters detailed in new release on White House documents

  • October 03, 2022

In a May 2021 email that was released Monday, NARA General Counsel Gary Stern told lawyers for Trump about ongoing efforts to capture presidential records on social media accounts, but added, “There are also certain paper/textual records that we cannot account for.”

“We therefore need your immediate assistance to ensure that NARA receives all Presidential records as required by the Presidential Records Act,” Stern wrote.

As an example, Stern wrote, “the original correspondence between President Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un were not transferred to us; it is our understanding that in January 2021, just prior to the end of the Administration, the originals were put in a binder for the President, but were never transferred to the Office of Records Management for transfer to NARA.”

“It is essential that these original records be transferred to NARA as soon as possible.”

Stern added that the letter that Obama left for Trump at the Oval Office when Obama’s presidency ended likewise “has not been transferred” to NARA.

“It is a Presidential record” and thus must be held by NARA, Stern noted.

Stern also wrote that NARA understood that about two dozen boxes of original presidential records were kept in the residence of the White House during Trump’s final year in office but had not yet been sent to NARA “despite a determination by [White House counsel] Pat Cipollone in the final days of the Administration that they need be.”

In another document released Monday, a June 2018 letter from Stern to Trump’s deputy White House counsel Stefan Passantino, Stern noted that the news outlet Politico had published an article days earlier about two former White House employees who had been responsible for taping back together documents that “were torn up by President Trump.”

“I am writing to request information on how the White House is addressing this issue,” wrote Stern, who noted that such documents would be subject to retention under the Presidential Records Act.

“How many records were torn up? Have any records been destroyed or were in a state that they cannot be recovered,” Stern asked. “What steps are taken to recover any records that have been torn up?”

The records NARA released Monday do not include any response to Stern’s letter.

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