At Least 4 Times the FBI Passed on Presidential Raids
(Newsmax/"John Bachman Now")
By Marisa Herman | Wednesday, 28 September 2022 05:44 PM EDT
Former President Donald Trump is far from the first commander in chief or top White House official to bring home alleged "classified documents" or purportedly store them improperly, but he's the only one who's been raided by the FBI for doing so.
FBI agents in early August raided Trump's Florida Mar-a-Lago residence, seizing a trove of documents that the National Archives and Records Administration claims should have been handed over at the end of Trump's term under the conditions set by the 1978 Presidential Records Act.
The act was signed into law by former President Jimmy Carter and applies to records received or created after Jan. 20, 1981, according to NARA.
The act strengthened previous legislation passed by Congress in 1974, which was geared toward preventing former President Richard Nixon from destroying tapes linked to the Watergate scandal.
Nixon eventually turned over 42 million pages of documents due to the legislation, which culminated with the passing of the Presidential Records Act.
Before Watergate, presidents were free to take their official records home if they so desired.
Today, the records are considered the property of the U.S. government, not the president.
But while they are supposed to end up entrusted to NARA, there have been plenty of instances of Oval Office memos winding up in places far less secure than Trump's private home — a location that's guarded by the Secret Service.
Some places that have "stored" important federal documents have included retrofitted bowling alleys, used car dealerships and even a former furniture store.
And these cases don't include those of former and current cabinet members like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
While Clinton maintains that her private email server housed "zero emails that were classified," in 2016, then-FBI director James Comey said that, of the 30,000 emails reviewed by the FBI, 110 emails and 52 email chains were determined to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received.
Comey noted that eight of those chains contained information that was "Top Secret" at the time it was sent; 36 chains contained "Secret" information at the time; and eight contained "Confidential" information, which is the lowest level of classification.
While Comey issued a public statement calling Clinton's handling of the highly sensitive information "extremely careless," he said the FBI "did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information."
Neither the server, her home nor her offices were ever raided by the FBI.
Here are four potential document raids the FBI apparently passed on:
1. George H.W. Bush
After George H.W. Bush exited the Oval Office, his archives were temporarily housed in a strip mall space that had been previously occupied by a bowling alley and a Chinese restaurant. Eventually, his records were relocated to his presidential library in College Station, Texas.
2. Bill Clinton
It took eight flights on C-5 cargo planes to get some 80 million pages of Clinton's documents from the White House to Little Rock, Arkansas, where they were stored in a former Oldsmobile dealership. The abandoned car dealership was used while his future library was under construction.
That wasn't the only strange place where Clinton stored his records.
While serving as commander in chief, Clinton stored audiotapes in his sock drawer at the White House. He apparently never turned them over to NARA either, and the sock drawer at his private residence was never raided.
Those tapes became the basis for historian and author Taylor Branch's 2009 book, "The Clinton Tapes."
Judicial Watch, a conservative legal group, ultimately lost a lawsuit that sought to force the archives to demand the tapes. The group argued the tapes were presidential records because they weren't just recordings of interviews and captured Clinton's telephone calls with others.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington, D.C., rejected the suit, concluding there was no provision in the Presidential Records Act to force the National Archives to seize records from a former president. The judge found that a president could destroy any record he wanted during his tenure and his only responsibility was to inform the archives.
3. George W. Bush
Before the $300 million George W. Bush Presidential Library opened at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, 68 million pages of documents, a gift from Pope Benedict XVI and the 9 mm Glock held by former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein when he was forced out of his spider hole were all stored in a warehouse in Lewisville, Texas.
While the items were stored in a facility managed by NARA, Bush was not immune to controversy over his record keeping while president.
The Bush White House was accused of losing 22 million emails generated between 2003 and 2005. The emails were not saved to a private email server used by the Bush administration, which was owned by the Republican National Committee.
Among the lost emails was correspondence about invading Iraq.
The National Security Archive and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed lawsuits challenging the failure of the Bush administration and NARA for failing to act when they were provided with evidence regarding the missing emails.
In 2009, the Obama administration said it found 22 million emails that had been mislabeled. Those emails were handed over to NARA, and the lawsuits were settled.
4. Barack Obama
When former President Barack Obama moved out of the White House, he took 30 million pages of documents from Washington and moved them into an abandoned furniture store outside of Chicago, where, he said, he planned to digitize all the records before housing them in The Obama Presidential Center.
This presidential library differed from others because it would be run by the Obama Foundation, a nonprofit established by the former president and former first lady Michelle Obama, instead of NARA.
According to a 2018 letter from the Obama Foundation to NARA, the records were being kept in an environment that did not meet NARA's standards for the storage of these types of documents.
The letter states that the foundation "agrees to transfer up to three million three hundred thousand dollars ($3,300,000) to the National Archives Trust Fund (NATF) to support the move of classified and unclassified Obama Presidential records and artifacts from Hoffman Estates to NARA-controlled facilities that conform to the agency's archival storage standards for such records and artifacts, and for the modification of such spaces."