WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A U.S. House panel is investigating former President Donald Trump’s handling of White House records after 15 boxes of official documents were retrieved from his private Florida property in what lawmakers said was a potential violation of the law.
House oversight panel chairwoman Carolyn Maloney on Thursday said she was “deeply concerned” the records were not promptly turned over to the National Archives when Trump’s term ended in January 2021 “and that they appear to have been removed from the White House in violation of the Presidential Records Act.”
Maloney said she was also concerned by recent media reports that Trump “repeatedly attempted to destroy presidential records, which could constitute additional serious violations” of the law, which requires the preservation of written communications related to the president’s official duties.
Separately, a report on Thursday said that White House staff periodically found documents clogging Trump’s toilet in the White House during his tenure.
“Staff in the White House would periodically find the toilet clogged” and would then find “wads of clumped up, wet printed paper … either notes or some other piece of paper that they believe he had thrown down the toilet,” in his bathroom, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman told CNN, citing reporting in her forthcoming book and adding it was unclear what types of documents were found.
In a statement, Trump acknowledged the boxes of records were transported to the Archives after “discussions” he called “collaborative” and said he had been told he “was under no obligation” to hand over any White House materials, though he did not say who gave him that directive.
“The papers were given easily and without conflict and on a very friendly basis,” he said.
Trump also denied the Haberman report as “categorically untrue.”
On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported the National Archives and Records Administration had asked the U.S. Department of Justice to probe the former Republican president’s handling of White House records.
The New York Times, citing a person briefed on the matter, reported U.S. archivists found possibly classified material from the boxes recovered in January.
It was unclear whether the Justice Department would open an investigation, and a its representative did not respond to a request from Reuters.
The Archives earlier this week said it retrieved 15 boxes of memos, letters and other documents from Trump’s his private resort in Florida.
The Washington Post over the weekend also reported that Trump’s ripping up of documents during his presidency was more extensive than previously known.
Maloney, a Democrat, in her letter to the Archives dated Wednesday, asked the agency for more information by Feb. 18.
Representatives for the Archives could not be immediately reached for comment.
(Reporting by Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu; editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski)