Is it common for a U.S. president to have official documents in their personal posession after they leave office?

The Politicus
Aug 15, 2022 06:35 PM 0 Answers
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The Florida home of a former U.S. president was recently raided because he was believed to have several documents that belong to the government in his home. Fifteen boxes of such papers were recovered from the home. The way I've heard the investigation described, the F.B.I. carried out the raid because it was believed there were top secret documents that needed to be recovered among the papers in the Florida home. The unspoken message I seem to hear in reporting on the issue is that the problem isn't that he had official documents in his possession, but that he had top secret documents in his possession. This makes me wonder: is it common for people to have official government documents in their possession after they leave the office of the president?

EDIT: I left the original question. Response to the comment asking about if this question is focused on top secret documents: not exclusively. I wrote this question with the idea of responding to someone hypothetically asking, "what's the big deal? They all take home the papers from their office when they leave". I had a feeling the president was lawfully required to leave all the documents his office created and couldn't take them after the term is over. Official documents is clearly more than just top secret documents.

To address the other comment asking for clarification: I didn't mean sundry items, like a get well letter on presidential letterhead. I meant more substantive documents, like documents from the office of the president that affect national policies or regulations or are official communications with domestic or foreign officials but since I don't work for the White House and don't study any branch of U.S. government closely, I don't know all the aspects of documents created in that office. I searched a little about National Archives ("N.A.") and presidential records. So if it clarifies some: "Presidential records" as defined by the N.A here seems to describe what I'm asking about.

To kind of answer my question, I came across this article from factcheck in my search: the president is not allowed take home records. I feel silly answering my own question, so if someone else wants to write a thorough answer, the factcheck link and the link I included from the N.A., should provide some material for an answer.

I've spent a lot of time working on this edit. Apologies if it didn't improve the question.

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  • August 15, 2022