Trump and the Archives
My writing, in the Washington Post
Last month, the National Archives and Records Administration retrieved 15 boxes of presidential records from Donald Trump’s private club at Mar-a-Lago. The initial reports conjured an incongruous image of mild-mannered, glove-wearing archivists executing a no-knock warrant to retrieve the country’s nuclear codes. Somewhere, I like to imagine, a CBS executive started notes on a pitch for another law enforcement procedural: “NARA: SWAT.”
Almost disappointingly, the retrieval of the materials appears to have been relatively sedate. Although some of the materials were marked as classified, most seem to have been innocuous items, such as a model of Trump’s proposed Air Force One redesign. Afterward, Trump advisers stressed their congenial relations with the National Archives. Trump himself put out a statement emphasizing that the papers were “given easily” and “on a very friendly basis.” (In any case, it should be noted, archivists only rarely wear white gloves.)
But don’t be deceived. For all the calm of the retrieval, the very fact that Trump could simply take the records — and that they could remain in his possession for so long — demonstrates that our institutions still haven’t adjusted to the problem of a lawless and disorderly president.
Read the whole thing!