House leaders demand that outgoing Trump agency heads preserve records for future investigations.
Worried that the Trump administration might destroy files as its members leave the White House, the Democratic heads of 21 House committees sent letters on Tuesday to more than 50 federal agencies, demanding they comply with federal record-keeping laws and preserve information sought in congressional subpoenas and investigations.
The request, coming after the White House repeatedly stonewalled Democratic lawmakers by refusing to release documents and blocking officials from testifying before their committees, could set up a new series of conflicts, before and after the inauguration, as committee aides scramble to uncover undisclosed details of governmental machinations under Mr. Trump.
“As the Trump administration prepares for the transition of power to the new Biden administration, we write to remind you that all Executive Office of the President employees and officials must comply with record preservation obligations set forth in federal law and preserve information relevant to congressional oversight,” wrote the chairs of the committees, including Representative Carolyn B. Maloney of New York, chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform.
Among the demands in the letters were orders for the White House to preserve all records in accordance with the Presidential Records Act and the Federal Records Act, as well as any documents that may be requested as part of a congressional investigation.
“You are obligated to ensure that any information previously requested by Congress — and any other information that is required by law to be preserved — is saved and appropriately archived in a manner that is easily retrievable,” the Democrats wrote.
House Democrats have opened numerous investigations into the Trump administration during the president’s four years in office, including, most recently, probes into Customs and Border Protection agents who allegedly engaged in misconduct, attempts to withhold federal funds from local jurisdictions, and the performance of the Postal Service.