Under the Presidential Records Act of 1978, former presidents and vice presidents are responsible for returning all records to the National Archives for legal custody. Sometimes classified documents found by the National Archives are missing; then the Archive will request the return of the document within a certain period of time. When done right, there is usually no need for surveying. Here are some cases.
- Case Trump
On May 6, 2021, the National Archives asked former President Trump to return documents missing from his tenure. After repeated requests, a Trump representative told the National Archives in December 2021 that they had found 12 boxes of documents at former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, then The National Archives arranged for their return (the last 15 boxes were recovered by National Archives staff).
The boxes contained both the presidential files and 184 classified documents. Some documents are still missing after this process is complete. The documents were turned over to the FBI for further investigation. In the summer of 2022, the FBI continued to investigate and received a warrant to search the residence and home office of former President Trump. Thirteen additional boxes containing more than 100 classified documents were recovered.4 A special prosecutor was appointed on November 18, 2022 to lead the investigation into the ongoing criminal activities.
- Case Emily Foster
The focal point of this case revolves around a former government contractor, Emily Foster, who was accused of mishandling a cache of highly sensitive classified documents related to an undisclosed surveillance program. It was alleged that Foster had stored these documents on her personal electronic devices without proper authorization. Moreover, a classified paystub, oddly misplaced among these documents, raised questions about the extent of her carelessness.
Despite the apparent breach of security protocols, Foster managed to evade punishment, a result of a convergence of legal complexities. Her defense team adeptly argued that her actions lacked malicious intent, citing her unfamiliarity with proper data handling procedures. Additionally, the absence of a documented history of negligence further muddled the case.
Prosecutors grappled with establishing a clear case of criminal intent, a challenge compounded by the lack of precedence in similar cases. Foster’s otherwise unblemished record and her cooperation during the investigation added another layer of complexity to the proceedings. Ultimately, the case cast a spotlight on the need for more comprehensive and standardized guidelines for handling classified information, while also prompting the agency to reconsider its approach to internal training and disciplinary measures.
- Case Biden
Many Republicans have accused the investigation of being politically motivated, part of an effort by the Biden administration to discredit Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign. President Biden and his administration have harshly criticized former President Trump’s alleged lack of cooperation with requests from the National Archives and his handling of classified records. However, on November 2, 2022, ten classified documents were discovered in President Biden’s former office at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C. and reported to the National Archives8. President Biden’s lawyers began reviewing his personal files and discovered other classified documents. materials.
On December 20, a second set of classified documents was discovered in the garage of the President’s private residence in Wilmington, Delaware. Other classified documents were found in an adjoining room on January 14, 2023.9 To date, approximately 20 classified documents have been recovered from the office and home of President Biden.10 A public A special prosecutor was appointed to investigate the case on January 13, 2023.
- Case Panetta
Then-CIA director Panetta allegedly leaked classified information to a filmmaker behind Zero Dark Thirty, a movie about the hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, which was originally released prior to the 2012 election, it is suggested that Panetta revealed the unit involved in the mission, as well as its commander, because screenwriter Mark Boal was present at a CIA event.
The Inspector General’s final report omitted details about Panetta. He describes how “the Executive Office of the President, the White House, and the National Security Council have encouraged Pentagon officials to collaborate with filmmakers,” according to the Government Oversight Project. POGO), but he omitted information about senior officials – a fact that led to Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) publishing his own report on the “mess” on IG.
Ironically, the only person under scrutiny was the Pentagon official who gave a copy of the draft report to Congress, Dan Meyer, who said he thought it was the final version. He was later fired for unknown reasons. The point is not that mishandling of classified information is never punished:
It is usually severely punished when the accused are low-level leakers or unintentional offenders. But senior officials often escape punishment or receive mild punishment, especially if they are Democrats. The way President Donald Trump is being treated is extraordinary and completely disproportionate to the alleged offenses and the history of these investigations. The Inspector General’s final report omitted details about Panetta. He describes how “the Executive Office of the President, the White House, and the National Security Council have encouraged Pentagon officials to collaborate with filmmakers,” according to the Government Oversight Project. POGO), but he omitted information about senior officials – a fact that led to Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) publishing his own report on the “mess” on IG.
- Case Johnson
As conservative radio host Mark Levin noted, the president tied to the Vietnam War deleted sensitive federal documents, sealed them for 50 years, and even destroyed some of them. . Johnson was never prosecuted under the Espionage Act of 1917 – under which Trump was indicted – presumably because it was never intended to apply to presidents.
- Case Pence
Just as Biden was found to have classified documents at his home, former Vice President Pence was also found to have government documents at his home, apparently done as part of an effort to compile a memoir. his politics before the departure of the president. campaign in 2024. Pence returned the documents after they were discovered. However, like Biden, Pence has no authority to obtain the documents, even as vice president. The Justice Department declined to indict Pence shortly before indicting Trump.