The National Archives granted former President Trump multiple delays to return documents that it had identified as top secret, according to a letter posted by MAGA journalist John Solomon.
The letter — dated May 10 — is from NARA’s acting chief and is addressed to Trump attorney Evan Corcoran. It appeared on Solomon’s website late Tuesday.
The correspondence recounts events that took place in early 2022, explaining that the National Archives granted Trump at least two delays before allowing the FBI to search 15 boxes of records that the former President had already handed over to the agency in January.
Acting archivist Debra Wall, who wrote the letter, said that officials had found more than 100 documents in the 15 boxes “with classification markings,” and that “some include the highest levels of classification, including Special Access Program (SAP) materials.”
Solomon posted the text of the letter to his website, and not a copy of the letter itself. The National Archives did not immediately return TPM’s request for comment about the document.
But the correspondence shows that as NARA and other federal officials grew to understand the scale of the national security information that Trump had been hoarding, they became increasingly frustrated with Trump’s delays — but also agreed to accommodate them.
“It has now been four weeks since we first informed you of our intent to provide the FBI access to the boxes so that it and others in the Intelligence Community can conduct their reviews,” Wall wrote in the letter.
Even that came after more than one year of delays.
Instead of allowing the archives to take control of documents from his administration in January 2021, Trump absconded with records at the end of his term, stashing them away in Mar-a-Lago.
NARA held discussions with Trump throughout 2021 about returning the records, before Trump agreed to hand over 15 boxes in January 2022. Those, we now know, were not all of the documents in Trump’s possession.
The archives contacted the DOJ after finding highly classified material in the 15 boxes, leading to the FBI’s need to review the documents. A Trump representative was first informed that FBI agents wanted to conduct a review on April 12.
The FBI was initially supposed to review the records on the week of April 18, but NARA delayed the review after Trump made the bogus suggestion that some of the records might have privilege belonging to him. That same excuse then earned the former President a delay to April 29, and then beyond.
As of the May 10 letter, it seemed that the FBI had not yet reviewed the records.
There was a flurry of correspondence during that time between Trump’s legal team and the archives, referenced in the letter. On April 29, the DOJ’s National Security Division _ which later sent a representative to Mar-a-Lago — told Trump that it had identified “Special Access Program material” in the records, and that the presence of that information created the need for a damage assessment, and an investigation into unlawful handling of the materials.
“There are important national security interests in the FBI and others in the Intelligence Community getting access to these materials,” read a quote from the National Security Division’s letter that Wall cited.
Corcoran, Trump’s attorney, apparently sent more letters on April 29 and May 1, which are described in Wall’s letter.
In the correspondence, Trump had sought delays by apparently claiming that executive privilege might apply to some of the records — a long-tried excuse by the former President used to delay investigations that threaten him.
Per the letter, Biden delegated to NARA the authority to decide whether executive privilege applied. NARA then told Trump in the May 10 letter that no executive privilege applied.
It deprived Trump of an excuse to further delay the investigation and to request the return of the records.
“The question in this case is not a close one,” Wall wrote.