November 10, 2020

House Committee Chairs Send Dozens of Letters Directing White House and Federal Agencies to Preserve Documents

Washington, D.C. (Nov. 10, 2020) — Today, Committee Chairs across the House of Representatives sent letters directing the White House and more than 50 federal agencies within their jurisdictions to comply with federal record-keeping laws and preserve information responsive to congressional subpoenas and investigations.
“As the Trump Administration prepares for the transition of power to the new Biden Administration, we write to remind you that all Executive Office of the President employees and officials must comply with record preservation obligations set forth in federal law and preserve information relevant to congressional oversight,” the Chairs wrote to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.  
In today’s letters, the Chairs directed the Administration to preserve all records in accordance with the Presidential Records Act, the Federal Records Act, and related regulations, as well as all documents that are or may be potentially responsive to any congressional inquiry, request, investigation, or subpoena that was initiated, continued, or otherwise undertaken during the 116th Congress. 
These preservation letters cover documents and electronic messages and metadata involving official business that were sent using both official and personal accounts or devices, including communications through text messaging, phone-based message applications, or encryption software.  
“Over the last four years, the Administration obstructed numerous congressional investigations by refusing to provide responsive information,” the Chairs wrote in letters to agencies.  “You are obligated to ensure that any information previously requested by Congress—and any other information that is required by law to be preserved—is saved and appropriately archived in a manner that is easily retrievable.”
Collectively, the letters were signed by:
Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Carolyn B. Maloney
Agriculture Committee Chair Collin Peterson
Appropriations Committee Chair Nita M. Lowey
Armed Services Committee Chair Adam Smith
Budget Committee Chair John Yarmuth
Committee on House Administration Chair Zoe Lofgren
Education and Labor Committee Chair Bobby Scott
Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone, Jr.
Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters
Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Eliot Engel
Homeland Security Committee Chair Bennie G. Thompson
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chair Adam B. Schiff
Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler
Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva
Rules Committee Chair James P. McGovern
Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson
Select Committee on the Climate Crisis Chair Kathy Castor
Small Business Committee Chair Nydia M. Velázquez
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter A. DeFazio
Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chair Mark Takano
Ways & Means Committee Chair Richard E. Neal.
The Committee Chairs thank Reps. Sean Casten and Tom Malinowski for their substantial contributions to this effort.
Click here to read today’s letters.