This week, Donald Trump utilized his Truth Social platform to call attention to a similar case involving the possession of materials by another former president, namely Bill Clinton.
During a speech to supporters at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club following his appearance in a Miami federal court on Tuesday after being indicted on 37 counts related to his handling of classified materials, Trump referred to the ‘Clinton sock drawer’ case that was litigated by the legal watchdog group Judicial Watch many years ago.
He cited a Wall Street Journal article by attorney Michael Bekesha, who wrote that, according to the Presidential Records Act, a president “decides which records to return or keep, and the National Archives has no say in the matter.”
“The Presidential Records Act allows the president to decide what records to return and what records to keep at the end of his presidency. And the National Archives and Records Administration can’t do anything about it. I know because I’m the lawyer who lost the ‘Clinton sock drawer’ case,” Bekesha wrote in the Journal.
In 2009, historian Taylor Branch released “The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President.” The book is based on recordings of 79 encounters between Mr. Branch and President Clinton between January 20, 1993 and January 20, 2001. According to Mr. Branch, the audiotapes preserved not only Mr. Clinton’s reflections on the issues he confronted as president, but also phone conversations and other actual events.
Nancy Hernreich, the director of Oval Office operations at the time, facilitated the meetings between President Clinton and Mr. Branch and oversaw the logistics of the recordings.
“Did that make them presidential records?” Bekesha asked.
The recordings were not sent to the National Archives and Records Administration. Branch claims that Clinton concealed the recordings in his sock drawer to prevent their release to the public and took them with him when he left office.
“My organization, Judicial Watch, sent a Freedom of Information Act request to NARA for the audiotapes. The agency responded that the tapes were Mr. Clinton’s personal records and therefore not subject to the Presidential Records Act or the Freedom of Information Act,” the attorney wrote.
“We sued in federal court and asked the judge to declare the audiotapes to be presidential records and, because they weren’t currently in NARA’s possession, compel the government to get them,” he added.
The Justice Department defended the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) by claiming that NARA is not required to continuously seek for potential presidential records that were not submitted by the president at the end of their term.
More on this story via Conservative Brief:
The department argued that the Presidential Records Act does not mandate to NARA “a duty to engage in a never-ending search for potential presidential records.” According to the government’s stance, Congress determined that the president holds the authority to determine which records qualify as presidential and retains the right to take with them any records they wish when leaving office. CONTINUE READING…