Two Senators Request Info From Archivist of U.S., David Ferriero Re: Concerns Over Trump Admin. Records Compliance
UPDATED April 2016: The full text of David Ferriero’s (Archivisit of the United States) response to the McCaskill/Carper letter (below) is available here (53 pages; PDF). Included in the response is a photocopy of NARA’s Guide to Presidential Records (2016) that was released in February and is linked to here.
On Tuesday, a letter signed by Senator Claire McCaskill and Senator Tom Carper from the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs was sent to David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, “regarding concerns over compliance by President Donald Trump’s Administration with the Presidential Records Act and the Federal Records Act.”
From the Letter:
As you know, we previously raised concerns over several Trump Administration recordkeeping practices. In February, we wrote to White House Counsel Donald McGahn regarding public reports that at least four senior officials in the Administration maintained active email accounts on a private email system while serving in the White House. We also raised concerns last month with Department of Defense Secretary James Mattis over whether President Trump’s reported use of a personal, unsecured smartphone ensures that presidential records created through the use ofthis device are being properly preserved.2 Most recently, we sent a second letter to White House Counsel Donald McGahn related to White House officials’ use of social media platforms, such as Twitter, that may not comply with federal recordkeeping requirements.
The letter continues with a request for information from Ferriero/NARA:
In 2014, Congress recognized the importance of the Archivist of the United States by recently granting the Archivist final determination as to what constitutes a Federal record.8 The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) plays an essential role in preserving our history as the nation’s federal record-keeper. In order to better understand how NARA is addressing the growing concerns over the Trump Administration’s commitment to federal recordkeeping requirements, we ask that you please provide the following information by March 21, 2017:
1. Has any staff from the White House or offices within the Executive Office of the President consulted NARA since January 20, 2017 regarding compliance with the Presidential Records Act or the Federal Records Act? Ifso, has NARA provided any guidance to the White House or the Executive Office ofthe President? Please provide a copy of any written guidance.
2. Has NARA provided, or been asked to provide, guidance to any federal agency regarding methods to ensure that President Trump’s communications made through this personal smartphone are preserved? I f so, please provide a copy o f any written guidance and a list of any agencies that have requested such guidance.
3. NARA considers President Trump’s tweets as presidential records that need to be preserved for historic purposes.9 Has NARA made a determination of whether the Trump Administration must also preserve altered or deleted tweets? I f so, please provide this determination. Ifnot, please indicate when NARA anticipates making such a determination
4. Is NARA aware of any federal agencies or offices within the Executive Office of the President using smartphone apps including, but not limited to, Confide for work- related communications? Has NARA provided any guidance to federal agencies or offices within the Executive Office o f the President on the use o f smartphone apps that do not preserve work-related communications? Please provide a copy o f any written guidance.
5. NARA aware of any government official at federal agencies or offices within the Executive Office of the President who have been instructed to avoid using email as a method ofwork-related communication for fear ofpress leaks? Has NARA provided any guidance to any federal agencies or offices within the Executive Office of the President on whether, and under what circumstances, it is appropriate to instruct covered officials to avoid using email for work-related communications, or on how to preserve the content oftelephonic or in-person work-related communications? Please provide a copy of any written guidance.
The full text of the letter is available here.
Also on Tuesday, another letter signed by McCaskill and Carper, was sent to White House Counsel Don McGahn requesting a meeting to discuss transparency and accountability concerns.
From News Release:
The request to White House Counsel Don McGahn follows reports of President Trump deleting tweets, White House top staffers using applications on their phones that automatically delete messages, and the use of personal accounts for official business. These and other actions occurring in the administration are in potential violation of the Presidential Records Act.
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Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.