Press Statements in Response to Media Queries About Presidential Records
Media Alert · Friday, September 23, 2022

Washington, DC

In response to recent media reports that generated a large number of queries about presidential records, we issued the following statements to the media:


September 23, 2022, statement 

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) administers the Barack Obama Presidential Library, located in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. The library holds records from the Obama presidential administration and is leased, controlled, managed, and used exclusively by NARA. The Obama Foundation, an independent entity, has never had control over the records in Hoffman Estates. All records in that facility are stored and managed by NARA in accordance with archival storage standards, and all classified records were stored in an appropriately secured compartment within the facility. NARA moved these records at the end of the Obama administration to the Hoffman Estates facility under the assumption that former President Obama and his Foundation would be building and transferring to NARA a traditional, physical Presidential Library in the Chicago area. When former President Obama decided that he would not build a physical, NARA-operated Presidential Library, NARA transported the classified records back to secure locations in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. The Obama Foundation provided NARA with funds to help convert the Hoffman Estates facility and to cover some of the expenses of moving the classified records, but the foundation has never had possession or control over the records.


September 8, 2022, statement

Some news outlets and individuals on social media are mistakenly reporting that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) confirmed that a large number of boxes of Presidential records are missing from the Barack Obama administration. This is false. NARA has never issued any such statement and is not aware of any missing boxes of Presidential records from the Obama administration.


August 12, 2022, statement

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) assumed exclusive legal and physical custody of Obama Presidential records when President Barack Obama left office in 2017, in accordance with the Presidential Records Act (PRA). NARA moved approximately 30 million pages of unclassified records to a NARA facility in the Chicago area where they are maintained exclusively by NARA. Additionally, NARA maintains the classified Obama Presidential records in a NARA facility in the Washington, DC, area. As required by the PRA, former President Obama has no control over where and how NARA stores the Presidential records of his Administration.


February 8, 2022, statement

Throughout the course of the last year, NARA obtained the cooperation of Trump representatives to locate Presidential records that had not been transferred to the National Archives at the end of the Trump administration. When a representative informed NARA in December 2021 that they had located some records, NARA arranged for them to be securely transported to Washington. NARA officials did not visit or "raid" the Mar-a-Lago property.  


February 7, 2022, statement

In mid-January 2022, NARA arranged for the transport from the Trump Mar-a-Lago property in Florida to the National Archives of 15 boxes that contained Presidential records, following discussions with President Trump’s representatives in 2021. Former President Trump’s representatives have informed NARA that they are continuing to search for additional Presidential records that belong to the National Archives. 

As required by the Presidential Records Act (PRA), these records should have been transferred to NARA from the White House at the end of the Trump Administration in January 2021.

“The Presidential Records Act mandates that all Presidential records must be properly preserved by each Administration so that a complete set of Presidential records is transferred to the National Archives at the end of the Administration,” said Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero. “NARA pursues the return of records whenever we learn that records have been improperly removed or have not been appropriately transferred to official accounts.”   

Ferriero further stressed the importance of adherence to the PRA by all Presidents. 

“The Presidential Records Act is critical to our democracy, in which the government is held accountable by the people,” Ferriero said. “Whether through the creation of adequate and proper documentation, sound records management practices, the preservation of records, or the timely transfer of them to the National Archives at the end of an Administration, there should be no question as to need for both diligence and vigilance. Records matter.”


January 31, 2022, statement

Some of the Trump presidential records received by the National Archives and Records Administration included paper records that had been torn up by former President Trump. As has been reported in the press since 2018, White House records management officials during the Trump Administration recovered and taped together some of the torn-up records. These were turned over to the National Archives at the end of the Trump Administration, along with a number of torn-up records that had not been reconstructed by the White House. The Presidential Records Act requires that all records created by presidents be turned over to the National Archives at the end of their administrations.


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This page was last reviewed on September 28, 2022.
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