The National Archives is formally asking former presidents and vice presidents to recheck their personal records for any classified documents or other presidential records following classified documents discovered in the homes of former President Donald Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence and President Joe. Biden over the past year.
The Archives sent a letter Thursday to representatives of former presidents and vice presidents from the past six presidential administrations covered by the Presidential Archives Act (PRA) — from former President Ronald Reagan’s White House to the present day.
The letter, which has been reviewed by CNN, asks them to check their records to ensure that documents deemed personal do not “inadvertently” contain presidential records that must be turned over to the Archives by law.
“The responsibility to comply with the PRA does not diminish after the end of an administration,” the letter states. “Therefore, we request that you conduct an assessment of any material held outside of NARA that relates to the administration for which you are a designated representative under the PRA, to determine whether previously purported to be of a personal nature could inadvertently contain Presidential or Vice-Presidential Documents submitted to the PRA, whether classified or not.
The letter notes that “while much of the attention of these bodies has focused on classified information, the PRA demands that all presidential records from every administration beginning with Reagan be transferred to NARA, regardless of or classification status”.
The Archives sent the letter to representatives of former Presidents Trump, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George HW Bush and Ronald Reagan, and former Vice Presidents Pence, Biden, Dick Cheney, Al Gore and Dan Quayle.
Representatives for the four former presidents have all so far told CNN they have no classified records in their possession. Representatives for former Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush, Obama and the late George HW Bush all told CNN that all classified documents were turned over to the National Archives after leaving office.
Former President Jimmy Carter did not receive a letter from the Archives because he is technically exempt from the Presidential Records Act. Although Carter signed the PRA, it did not go into effect until after he left office.
A source close to the Archives told CNN they did not recall Carter finding any misplaced classified documents.
Quayle confirmed to CNN that everything was turned over to the Archives, and sources familiar with Cheney’s records said he also turned everything over when he left the White House. A spokesperson for Gore said he and his team turned everything around when they left the White House and no classified documents have been discovered since.
In the most recent case, Pence turned over about a dozen classified documents to the FBI, as CNN first reported this week, in what is now the third case of a current or former occupant of the House. Blanche with classified material in her home or office. As a precaution, Pence also provided four boxes of unclassified documents to the National Archives to ensure that nothing else in his possession fell under the Presidential Archives Act.
Trump had more than 300 classified documents in his possession at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, while Biden had ten classified documents in his former private office in Washington. Other batches of classified documents were later found at Biden’s residence in Wilmington, Delaware.