- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Representatives for a quartet of former presidents say they turned over their classified records to the National Archives when they left office as President Biden, former President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence face questions about why classified materials were stowed at their homes.

Staff for George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama told CNN that their bosses turned over records to the National Archives and Records Administration in accordance with the Presidential Records Act in 1993, 2001, 2009 and 2017.

A representative for the late Mr. Bush, who served from 1989 to 1993, said the former president even turned over all of his papers when he left office and his personal papers were returned to him after the archives sorted through the material.

However, none of the representatives said the former presidents were planning to search the homes or offices to see if classified records were mixed in.

The discovery of records in non-secured areas is tripping up Messrs. Biden, Trump and Pence.

Mr. Trump faced a special counsel probe after an FBI raid on his Mar-a-Lago home last year uncovered classified records that had been requested by the archives.

Classified materials then were discovered at the Biden-Penn Center and Mr. Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, prompting scrutiny of how they got there and why the White House wasn’t more forthcoming about the November discovery.

Mr. Pence’s lawyer, Greg Jacob, last week told the archives that a small number of classified documents were inadvertently boxed and transported to the former vice president’s home in Indiana at the end of the Trump administration.

Mr. Pence was unaware that sensitive documents were at his personal residence until they turned up during a search of his residence by his lawyers, Mr. Jacobs wrote.

The revelations could provide legal cover to Mr. Trump since it appears the co-mingling of classified records with other papers could be more commonplace than first thought.

Politically, Democrats and others have said Mr. Trump’s situation is different because of his refusal to return records in negotiations leading up to the August raid.

Former President Jimmy Carter found classified materials at his home in Plains, Georgia, on at least one occasion and returned them to the National Archives, a source told The Associated Press.

The timing of the discovery was unclear, the AP reported. Notably, Mr. Carter signed the Presidential Records Act in 1978, although the provisions did not take effect until the Reagan administration.

The law says that any records created or received by the president as part of constitutional, statutory or ceremonial duties should be considered the property of the U.S. government and managed by the national archives at the end of the administration.

Jeff Mordock contributed to this story.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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