May 26, 2022

National Security Archive, American Historical Association, and Other Groups Sue White House, Seek to Preserve Presidential Records During the Transition

From the National Security Archive:

The National Security Archive, the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, the American Historical Association, and the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington today filed suit against President Donald Trump in his official capacity, seeking to enforce the Presidential Records Act and prevent any destruction of records during the presidential transition.


The lawsuit cites the inadequacy of current White House policies that only require a screenshot of instant messages to be saved, preserving only the graphic content, when the law (as amended in 2014) requires “a complete copy” to be preserved, including digital links and attachments.

The Archive wrote the White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone, on November 13, seeking express assurances that all presidential records would be preserved, and citing six different news reports that White House staff were violating the records laws.  More than two weeks later, the White House has not responded.

“Presidential records are always at risk because the law that’s supposed to protect them is so weak and depends on good faith, which is currently lacking,” said Tom Blanton, director of the National Security Archive.  “The Archive, historians, and CREW are suing to put some backbone in the law, save complete copies of all those instant messages, and prevent any bonfire of records in the Rose Garden.”

Read the Complete Announcement

Direct to Complaint (via National Security Archive)

National Security Archive et. al. vs. Trump et. al.
41 pages; PDF.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.