A government agency is withholding many records related to the FBI’s raid of former President Donald Trump’s home, a watchdog says.

Judicial Watch is seeking records related to the National Archives and Records Administration’s referral to the Department of Justice of Trump’s records management procedures, and records related to the retrieval of the materials stored at Mar-a-Lago.

The archives, known as NARA, identified 1,612 responsive records but told Judicial Watch in letters made public on Oct. 11 that it will release just 65 of them.

The rest are shielded from disclosure by various exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), NARA said, such as an exemption that allows agencies to withhold inter-agency and intra-agency records.

That exemption “was asserted to protect NARA’s deliberations with Trump’s representatives, Congress, and other federal agencies,” Jodi Foor, a deputy archivist, told Judicial Watch. “Release would have a chilling effect on those deliberations, inhibiting the relationships and cooperation needed for compliance with the Presidential Records Act.”

The withholding of so many records shows the Biden administration “is in cover-up mode” over the raid, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement.

“The National Archives pretends to be concerned to public access to public information while unlawfully ignoring FOIA law and using a myriad of excuses to hide records about its manufactured dispute over the Trump records,” he said.

NARA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Boxes Transferred, Referral

Trump transferred 15 boxes of documents to NARA in January.

NARA made a referral to the Department of Justice, the FBI’s parent agency, in February after finding documents with classified markings among the boxes transferred from Mar-a-Lago to the archives, former Archivist David Ferriero has said.

FBI agents raided Mar-a-Lago in August. In an affidavit attesting to the need for a search warrant, an FBI agent said the referral triggered a criminal investigation.

The affidavit was released to the public after Judicial Watch sued.

Agents seized more than 11,000 non-classified records and approximately 100 classified records from Trump’s Florida resort, according to inventory lists the FBI has submitted to federal courts following the raid.

Trump has said that he declassified all the materials marked classified before he left office and that the raid was not justified.

Judicial Watch has sued NARA over an alleged abuse of FOIA. Judicial Watch asked for records in February but had not received them by August, according to the complaint.

NARA has made some records public, including 15 pages of emails (pdf) between NARA and lawyers for Trump related to the 15 boxes of materials. It also periodically discloses information in letters to members of Congress. In one recent letter, acting Archivist Debra Steidel Wall said that some records from the Trump White House are still missing.


Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news for The Epoch Times. He is based in Maryland.

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