Former President Donald Trump has recently been indicted on thirty-seven counts of willful retention of national defense information, conspiracy to obstruct justice and false statements after a special counsel investigation. However, it is rumored that the former president may have been set up by the federal government.
This is a possible resistance that appeared in a letter to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in April by Trump’s attorneys. The Nationals Archives and Records Administration “has become overtly political and declined to provide archival assistance to President Trump’s transition team” the former president’s attorneys alleged in the letter. This is the first such incident to happen in forty years, which is raising reasonable concern.
There’s strong reasoning behind why the Nationals Archives and Records Administration (NARA) typically aids the president in the transition from office. The Associated Press commented in their piece in January about the Presidential Records Act, the Classified Information Procedures Act and other relevant statutes, Trump is “hardly the first president to mishandle classified information.”
Although the Presidential Records Act was signed by former President Jimmy Carter, it didn’t apply to his administration. The Associated Press reported Carter “found classified materials at his home in Plains, Georgia, on at least one occasion and returned them to the National Archives, according to the same person who spoke of regular occurrences of mishandled documents. The person did not provide details on the timing of the discovery.
“An aide to the Carter Center provided no details when asked about that account of Carter discovering documents at his home after leaving office in 1981. It’s notable that Carter signed the Presidential Records Act in 1978 but it did not apply to records of his administration, taking effect years later when Ronald Reagan was inaugurated,” the Associated Press account continued.
“Before Reagan, presidential records were generally considered the private property of the president individually. Nonetheless, Carter invited federal archivists to assist his White House in organizing his records in preparation for their eventual repository at his presidential library in Georgia.”
So while former President Jimmy Carter made several mishaps in his transition, a letter to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Representative Mike Turner of Ohio from former Trump lawyer Timothy C. Parlatore protested that NARA’s cooperation with the outgoing Trump administration was unbelievably different from what the agency had previously done with every president since Jimmy Carter.
“When President Trump left office, there was little time to prepare for the outgoing transition from the presidency. Unlike his three predecessors, each of whom had over four years to prepare for their departure upon completion of their second term, President Trump had a much shorter time to wind up his administration,” Parlatore wrote in the letter.
“White House staffers and General Service Administration (‘GSA’) employees quickly packed everything into boxes and shipped them to Florida. This was a stark change from the standard preparations made by GSA and National Archives and Records Administration (‘NARA’) for prior administrations.”
As NARA recognized in a news release the agency issued on October 11, 2022: “The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), in accordance with the Presidential Records Act, assumed physical and legal custody of the Presidential records from the administrations of Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan, when those Presidents left office. NARA securely moved these records to temporary facilities that NARA leased from the General Services Administration (GSA), near the locations of the future Presidential Libraries that former Presidents built for NARA. All such temporary facilities met strict archival and security standards, and have been managed and staffed exclusively by NARA employees.”
The change, according to the former president’s ex-attorney, was because they were playing politics.
“NARA unfortunately has become overtly political and declined to provide archival assistance to President Trump’s transition team. Interestingly, in its Press Statement NARA cites every recent President after Jimmy Carter as having received the same assistance with ‘archival and security standards,’” Parlatore wrote.
“Yet, President Carter, the last President before President Trump to not receive archival assistance found documents with classification markings in his home, which he returned to NARA (though apparently without an accompanying DOJ criminal probe).”
Paralatore took a step back in May of 2023 amidst the differences with one of Trump’s advisers, Boris Epshteyn, as reported by The New York Times.
The paper stated that Parlatore “described how Mr. Epshteyn had hindered him and other lawyers from getting information to Mr. Trump, leaving the former president’s legal team at a disadvantage in dealing with the Justice Department, which is scrutinizing Mr. Trump’s handling of classified documents after leaving office and his efforts to remain in office after losing the 2020 election.”
The Times also reported that “Mr. Parlatore singled out Mr. Epshteyn as trying to keep the team from conducting additional searches of Mr. Trump’s properties after the F.B.I. executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s private club and residence in Florida, and discovered more than 100 additional classified documents.”
“As I said at the time, it had nothing to do with the case itself or the client,” Parlatore told the Times. “There are certain individuals that made defending the president much harder than it needed to be.”
Whether or not the situations can be connected is up for the debate of anyone. Timothy Parlatore hasn’t written anything on his Twitter account since before the indictment, his final activity being a retweet announcing his June 4th appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press”.
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) June 3, 2023
Yet, in an appearance on CNN prior to the charges being announced, Parlatore stated “the indictment has a lot in it, a lot of stuff I wasn’t aware of … specific allegations about moving boxes before the search … there are things in here that, if they have backup for, are certainly problematic.”
It is publicly known that the feuds on Trump’s legal team run deeper than an argument between Epsteyn and Parlatore. The two lawyers who represented Trump in the classified document case, Jim Trusty and John Rowley, quit his team only a day after the thirty-seven-count indictment was issued.
Though, the question of whether this indictment is a setup becomes whether or not NARA purposefully withheld its assistance in moving the presidential records securely and whether Trump’s legal representation was the idea of a potential setup strongly enough.