The news comes as the department faces growing political pressure to disclose its plans in the case. On Thursday, House Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (DN.Y.) accused the Justice Department of obstructing her committee’s investigation into the 15 boxes of documents Trump took in his property in Palm Beach, Florida.
In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, Maloney alleges the Justice Department is “interfering” with the investigation by preventing the National Archives and Records Administration from handing over a detailed inventory of the contents of recovered boxes.
If the department is planning an investigation, that might explain why it wouldn’t want lawmakers to get an inventory of the materials.
It is unclear to what extent the Justice Department has already assessed the inventory of the boxes, which the National Archives arranged to retrieve from Mar-a-Lago in January – including documents clearly marked as classified, had previously reported the Washington Post. The Justice Department, however, has been in contact with the Archives to advance its own investigation, people familiar with the matter said.
Addressing the issue previously, Garland said the department “would do what we always do in these circumstances – look at the facts and the law and go from there.”
Trump’s spokesperson in the past has defended his handling of the records. “It is clear that a normal, routine process is being weaponized by anonymous, politically motivated government sources to peddle fake news,” Taylor Budowich said in February.
In his letter Thursday, Maloney said his committee needed further explanation as to why the Justice Department was blocking his request for an inventory of records.
“The Committee does not wish to interfere in any way with any potential or ongoing Justice Department investigation,” Maloney wrote. “However, the Committee has not received any explanation as to why the Department is preventing NARA from providing the Committee with compliance information. [Presidential Records Act]including unclassified information describing the contents of the 15 Mar-a-Lago boxes.
An FBI spokeswoman told the Post, “We can neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation.”
The National Archives sent a letter to the committee late last month, advising it that based on its ‘consultation’ with the Justice Department, it was unable to ‘provide comment’ and respond to the request. of the committee. He instead referred the committee to the DOJ’s Office of Legislative Affairs for any further questions.
Maloney asked the Justice Department to confirm to the committee by April 14 whether it “will advise NARA that it can fully cooperate with the committee’s investigation, including providing the requested inventory of documents recovered from Mar -a-Lago”.