WASHINGTON — The National Archives and Records Administration requested Thursday that former presidents and vice presidents «conduct an assessment» to determine if they have any classified material in their possession.
In a letter to designated records representatives, the National Archives referenced «several cases reported in the media in which records containing classified information and subject to the Presidential Records Act (PRA) were identified out of custody. of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).”
«The responsibility to comply with the PRA does not diminish after the end of a management,» according to the letter, first reported by CNN and later obtained by NBC News.
Under the Presidential Records Act, all presidential and vice presidential records, including classified documents, must be turned over to Archives at the end of their terms.
«Therefore, we request that you conduct an evaluation of any material found outside of NARA and that relates to the Administration for which you serve as a designated representative under the PRA, to determine whether the bodies of materials you previously purported to be of a personal nature could inadvertently contain Presidential or Vice Presidential Records subject to the PRA, whether classified or unclassified,” the letter stated.
An Archives spokesman declined to comment on the letter, which was sent after classified documents were found in the homes of former Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Mike Pence, as well as an office Biden previously used.
Both Biden and Pence said they didn’t know they had the documents until lawyers found them.
Those discoveries came after former President Donald Trump was found to have left the White House with more than 300 documents bearing classification marks. More than 100 of those documents were found during an FBI search of Trump’s Florida property in August. That came after Trump’s lawyers said all those documents, which had been subpoenaed by federal authorities, had been turned over to the Justice Department.
The offices of former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama told NBC News earlier this week that they were in compliance with the records law.
On Thursday, Bush’s office responded to the Archives letter, saying, «Thank you for your note. We understand your purpose and are confident that we do not have such material in our possession.»
The other living former president, Jimmy Carter, signed the PRA law in 1978, but did not apply to the records of his administration.
Former Vice President Dan Quayle’s office said Thursday: “We have not received an inquiry from the National Archives. If we do, we will fully cooperate.»
Kelly O’Donnell contributed.