After a year of stalling, Trump’s former top aide and right-hand man, Mark Meadows, has turned over emails and texts requested by the National Archives. It’s not the former Chief of Staff’s decision to finally comply with the Presidential Records Act, but the timing that’s raising eyebrows – he did so within a week of the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago.
According to CNN Politics, a source familiar with the negotiations said, “It could be a coincidence, but within a week of the August 8 search on Mar-a-Lago, much more started coming in.”
Another source with inside information claims the two situations aren’t related, and that Meadows had already been in discussions for his compliance prior to the search.
Unlike the records sought by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) from former president Donald Trump, Meadows’ communications aren’t classified – putting the former White House official in a compromising position as one of Trump’s designees. Designees serve as representatives, or liaisons, between the National Archives and Records Administration.
“The representatives can play a valuable role in interacting with NARA on a variety of records issues during the Administration. After the end of the Administration, these representatives serve as liaisons with NARA in reviewing access requests and public openings,” according to the NARA website.
Asked to step in by former Trump Deputy White House Counsel, Pat Philbin, Meadows had been working with NARA since last summer in an attempt to help them recover missing materials. It’s a task that we know was unsuccessful because the federal government had to get a search warrant to force Trump’s compliance with the Presidential Records Act (PRA).
Mark Meadows has become a central figure — and potential key witness — in Congress’s investigation into the events leading up to and on January 6th. Explosive testimony from Meadow’s former senior aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, revealed just how integral a role Meadows played as the go-to guy in communications with the ex-President.
It wasn’t until after over 2,000 text messages were in the House Select Committee’s possession that the National Archives realized they hadn’t been turned over to the archivists. A source told CNN that in addition to the 2,300 texts, NARA also received about a dozen emails from Meadows.
“This is a category of communication that was on a personal device, but you are supposed to hand it over,” the source said. He had an obligation to ensure that his PRA materials were preserved and turned over.”
The National Archives website describes Presidential Records as:
“documentary materials, or any reasonably segregable portion thereof, created or received by the President, the President’s immediate staff, or a unit or individual of the Executive Office of the President whose function is to advise and assist the President, in the course of conducting activities which relate to or have an effect upon the carrying out of the constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties of the President.”
As Chief-of-Staff to the then-President, Meadows’ communications surrounding his position were squarely under the jurisdiction of the Presidential Records Act.
With several concurrent civil and criminal investigations being currently conducted into Trump’s misdeeds – and Meadows playing a central role in many of them – Trump’s attorneys recently advised the ex-president to cut ties with his former aide.
As to the timing of Meadows finally turning over his communications, one thing I’ve learned is that when it comes to Donald Trump and his associates – there’s no such thing as a coincidence.
Original reporting by James Gangel, Kristen Holmes, Jeremy Herb, and Evan Perez at CNN Politics.
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