In the wake of discovering classified documents in the homes of former President Donald Trump, President Joe Biden, and former Vice President Mike Pence over the last year, the National Archives has formally asked former presidents and vice presidents to re-check their personal records for any classified documents or other presidential records they might still have in possession.
In a letter sent Thursday to representatives of former presidents and VPs from the last six presidential administrations – from former President Ronald Reagan’s White House to the present – covered by the Presidential Records Act (PRA), the Archives requested that they ensure that material thought to be personal does not “inadvertently” contain any files required by law to be turned over to the Archives.
The letter states that the end of an administration does not make the responsibility to comply with the PRA diminish, also pointing out that the PRA requires all Presidential records – regardless of classification status – of every Administration from Reagan onward must be transferred to NARA.
Much of the attention to these instances, however, has lately focused on classified information.
Therefore, the request is that they all assess any materials held outside of NARA that relate to the Administration for which they serve as a designated representative under the PRA to determine whether materials previously assumed to be personal in nature might inadvertently contain Presidential or VPs records – classified or unclassified – subject to the PRA.
The letter from the Archives was sent to representatives for Trump, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan, as well as to former VPs Pence, Biden, Dick Cheney, Al Gore, and Dan Quayle.
The only one that didn’t receive a letter from the Archives is former President Jimmy Carter, who’s technically exempt from the Presidential Records ACT which did not become effective until he left office though Carter signed it into existence.
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