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National Archives official who notified DOJ in Trump probe declined to do the same over Clinton emails

The official who triggered the federal probe into former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents opted against doing the same concerning Hillary Clinton’s email scandal.

David Ferriero, who served as the director of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) from November 2009 until he retired this past April, said in a February letter to House Oversight Committee leadership that his staff had started communicating with the Department of Justice (DOJ) earlier this year. 

In January, Trump returned 15 boxes of documents from his time in office to NARA after the agency notified him the material belonged to the federal government.

“Because NARA identified classified information in the boxes, NARA staff has been in communication with the Department of Justice,” Ferriero wrote in his Feb. 18 letter.

After negotiations regarding additional documents broke down between Trump and federal investigators in recent months, the DOJ obtained a search warrant to obtain additional missing documents. On Monday, FBI agents raided Trump’s southern Florida home seeking the documents.


However, Ferriero said he took a different approach in 2015 when Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Neb., who at the time chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked whether NARA had notified the DOJ about its investigation into the deletion of Clinton’s emails during her time as secretary of state.

“The Federal Records Act requires that when a deletion occurs, the head of the agency in question must notify the Archivist, and with the help of the Archivist, initiate an action through the Attorney General for the recovery of those records,” Grassley wrote on Sept. 4, 2015. 

“Will you now request the Attorney General initiate an action for recovery for the 15 missing emails and potentially other federal records that may have been deleted by Secretary Clinton.”


In response, Ferriero said NARA didn’t believe it was necessary to notify the DOJ about the missing emails.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was accused of mishandling classified information through her use of a private email server while in office.

“In light of the ongoing activities, reviews, inquiries, and litigation described above, in which the Department of Justice reportedly is actively involved, we do not believe that it is appropriate or necessary at this time for NARA to request that the Attorney General initiate an action,” he wrote to Grassley.

Ferriero’s letter included a timeline of events which showed NARA first learned of Clinton’s emails in March 2015, several months before the DOJ reportedly began its review of Clinton’s handling of potentially classified national security information. NARA never notified the DOJ about its own review into Clinton’s email usage, according to the timeline.

Clinton’s email scandal arose following reports that, while she led the State Department, she used a private email server located in her New York home instead of a government email. During House Republicans inquiry into Clinton’s communications during the 2012 attack on U.S. facilities in Libya, it was revealed that Clinton had deleted all the emails on the private server after she left office.

NARA didn’t respond to a request for comment. The Aspen Institute, which lists Ferriero as a member, also didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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