Archives weigh in by asking former presidents and vice presidents to search for classified material


The National Archives is weighing whether to ask living former presidents and vice presidents to review their personal files to verify that no classified documents are inadvertently outstanding, according to two people familiar with the discussions who spoke under on condition of anonymity to detail the private conversations.

The deliberation comes after a limited number of documents bearing classified marks were discovered and returned in recent weeks to the home of President Biden and a think tank named after him, as well as the home of the former deputy. President Mike Pence.

More than 100 classified documents were also found by the FBI last year when they searched former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, capping a nearly year-long quest to recover documents from Trump. The search came after more than 200 classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago were turned over to the Archives and the Ministry of Justice.

The National Archives declined to comment.

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The list of former presidents and vice presidents could include former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, and former vice presidents Dick Cheney, Al Gore and Dan Quayle.

An adviser to Obama’s office, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, told the Washington Post on Tuesday that all classified documents from his stay at the House Blanche had been submitted to the National Archives on his leaving office and that the agency continues to assume physical and legal custody of Obama’s documents.

The recent findings underscore the limitations of the Presidential Archives Act, which governs how records of former presidents and vice presidents are handled. By law, the Archives appropriates millions of presidential documents from the incumbent president as soon as a new president is sworn in, while items deemed personal go home with the former president. Classified materials are all considered government property, but compliance can be an issue due to the massive volume of materials.

Biden and Pence officials have highlighted their cooperation and compliance with the Archives and the FBI in recent public statements, while Trump has continued to rail against Jack Smith, the special counsel appointed to oversee the investigation into his misconduct. management of classified documents. Attorney General Merrick Garland has also appointed a special counsel to investigate Biden’s handling of classified documents.

Earlier this week, Trump accused Smith of “viciously harassing and bullying everyone in sight” on the former president’s social media website, Truth Social.

Biden officials say classified documents recently found at Biden’s home and garage in Wilmington, Delaware, and his office at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington were inadvertently mishandled and promptly released and returned to the Archives national.

Greg Jacob, a lawyer for Pence, said the former vice president allowed the FBI to retrieve the classified documents from his home last week after a lawyer found what Jacob called a “small number” of documents bearing classified marks during a search at Pence. Indian house. No classified documents were found at the offices of Pence’s organization Advancing American Freedom, according to spokesman Devin O’Malley.

Michael Scherer contributed to this report.