Republican members of the House Oversight Committee are demanding answers about the role the National Archives played in the FBI’s raid Monday of former President Donald Trump’s private home in Florida, Mar-a-Lago.
The lawmakers led by Ranking Member Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., wrote to the acting archivist of the United States Debra Wall Wednesday to express their concerns and to request the preservation of documents and communications related to the warrant executed this week at Mar-a-Lago.
A FBI raid of Trump’s Palm Beach, Florida, house Monday was connected to a Department of Justice investigation into classified records Trump allegedly took with him from the White House to his home when he left office in January 2021.
Earlier this year, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) said Trump took 15 boxes of presidential records to his personal residence in Florida. Those boxes allegedly contained “classified national security information,” and official correspondence between Trump and foreign heads of state.
“Law enforcement raiding a former president’s residence is unprecedented. Committee Republicans are concerned that NARA would utilize the FBI to gather documents that the president, by the very nature of his constitutional role, could declassify himself, if this was indeed the case as media has reported,” the GOP lawmakers state in their letter to Wall. The committee has oversight jurisdiction over NARA.
TRUMP VS. NATIONAL ARCHIVES: A TIMELINE LEADING UP TO THE MAR-A-LAGO RAID
“The Biden Administration is continuing to weaponize the FBI against political rivals. To better understand the circumstances and NARA’s role, if any, in the FBI raid, Oversight Republicans request an immediate briefing on this matter. Additionally, we request that you ensure preservation of all documents and communications referring or relating to the warrant executed by the FBI on August 8, 2022 at Mar-a-Lago,” the letter continues.
The Republicans say the FBI and NARA’s action are “so contrary to the customary treatment of former administrations that it begs scrutiny into whether a political motivation underlay the raid.”
They site how NARA’s “singling” of Trump’s handling of official records “stands starkly in contrast” with previous officials, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The Republicans said that despite Clinton’s failure to have her personal emails preserved, as the Federal Records Act requires, she was never raided by the FBI. In addition, they say that the over 31,000 emails Clinton deleted after being subpoenaed during the Benghazi inquiry was met with the “FBI’s apathy.”
“Committee Republicans are content to leave Secretary Clinton to her retirement, yet the FBI and NARA’s behavior towards President Trump deserves an explanation as to why the latter deserved a raid by the FBI,” the say.
“The seeming weaponization of the federal government against President Biden’s political rivals cannot go unchecked, and if NARA is working to further these efforts, it will be only the latest agency to lose its credibility in the eyes of the American people under the Biden Administration,” the lawmakers conclude, also demanding a member-level briefing no later than Aug. 17.
WHITE HOUSE, DOJ AND FBI SILENT ON REASON FOR RAIDING TRUMP’S MAR-A-LAGO HOME
The White House, Department of Justice and FBI were all silent when asked Tuesday whether Americans deserve to know more about why former President Trump’s residence was raided.
FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland were aware of the raid, per standard protocol, and would have been fully briefed on it, a source told Fox News.
In addition, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday that Biden and White House staff learned of the FBI’s unprecedented raid on former President Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago through public reports “just like the American people did,” and stressed Biden’s commitment to Justice Department investigations “free of political influence.”
In addition, the White House has referred all comment on the raid to the Justice Department.