Wednesday, December 02, 2020
Correspondence threatens shredders
Historians and archivists are suing Trump
US governments actually have to carefully document their messages such as e-mails, text messages and others – but does the Trump administration do that too? Because several historians and other scientists doubt it, they are now bringing charges.
With a lawsuit against the incumbent US President Donald Trump, historians and archivists want to prevent the destruction of e-mails, WhatsApp messages and other correspondence from his presidency. The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in a Washington court, alleged the incumbent and the White House violating a Presidential Records Act.
The planned or completed destruction of files without formal notification to the United States archivist or Congress is illegal, it says. “Presidential documents are always in jeopardy because the law that is supposed to protect them is so weak and depends on goodwill, which is currently lacking,” said Tom Blanton, director of the National Security Archive research facility, which is one of the plaintiffs .
It also released a letter to White House legal advisor Pat Cipollone in mid-November urging government headquarters to reassure them about compliance with the law. This did not happen, said Blanton. In addition to Trump, the lawsuit was directed against his son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner and the archivist of the United States, David Ferriero. The plaintiffs accuse Kushner of failing to retain messages that he sent through unofficial channels such as his Whatsapp account. These include several historians’ associations such as the American Historical Association and the Society for Historians on the American Foreign Relations.
Suspected cases in Russia and Ukraine
During Trump’s presidency, which was now drawing to a close, he was exposed to a particularly high level of mistrust on the part of the opposition – especially the relationship with Russia was suspected. The suspicion that there might have been a connection led to the extensive Mueller investigation, which found no evidence of a Trump conspiracy with Russia, but cited ample evidence that Russia had helped the eventual winner in the 2016 election campaign.
Correspondence in connection with the Ukraine affair in 2019 should also be of interest. Trump had put pressure on President Zelensky to investigate his adversary Joe Biden and withheld military aid. This led to the impeachment process that the president survived thanks to the help of the Republican-dominated Senate.