The Washington Post
Historians sue Trump administration to stop ‘bonfire of records inthe Rose Garden’ Screenshots are not “complete copies” of presidential records, they say
Dec. 5, 2020 at 7:00 a.m. EST
Two historian groups, an independent archive and a watchdog organization are suing President Trump and other administration officials to ensure compliance with records laws, the groups announced this week. With Trump facing “potential legal and financial exposure once he leaves office,” the groups said, “there is a growing risk that he will destroy records of his presidency before leaving.”
The American Historical Association, the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and the National Security Archive and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington — a frequent plaintiff in Trump-related legal challenges — joined in the lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
“Presidential records are always at risk because the law that’s supposed to protect them is so weak,” Tom Blanton, director of the National Security Archive, said in a statement. “The archive, historians and CREW are suing to put some backbone in the law and prevent any bonfire of records in the Rose Garden.”
The White House did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for the National Archives and Records Administration said it could not comment on pending litigation.
The Presidential Records Act requires presidents and White House personnel to preserve all records of “the activities, deliberations, decisions, and policies that reflect the performance of the president’s constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties.” The National Archives and Records Administration restricts these records from public view until at least five years after the end of an administration; some records can be withheld for much longer.