The National Archives and Records Administration has become yet another target of threats in the wake of attacks by former President Donald Trump after the FBI seized government documents from his Mar-a-Lago residence, sources have told The Washington Post.
After Trump unleashed a torrent of invective against an agency widely viewed as librarian-like and apolitical, police increased patrols around the National Archives building in Washington, D.C., due to a troubling “spike in online chatter” about the facility, sources told the Post.
It was the National Archives that ultimately set in motion the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago when it alerted the Department of Justice last year about concerns that Trump had not turned over all White House documents to the agency at the end of his term, as the Presidential Records Act requires.
Earlier this month, the FBI seized several boxes of material stashed at Mar-a-Lago, including classified, and even top secret, information.
Trump later ranted in an attack on NARA that all anyone had to do was simply ask for the documents. But communications included in the affidavit supporting the search revealed that U.S. officials had been attempting since early last year to retrieve the documents.
Not only were several boxes of documents recovered, but officials noted in the affidavit that the records — including highly sensitive national security information — were also haphazardly stored with other papers.
Acting archivist Debra Steidel Wall sent a message Wednesday telling NARA staff to stand strong in the face of threats, according to the Post.
“NARA has received messages from the public accusing us of corruption and conspiring against the former President, or congratulating NARA for ‘bringing him down,’” Steidel Wall wrote in the agency-wide message obtained by The Post. “Neither is accurate or welcome.”
Trump has treated the documents as his personal property, though, under the Presidential Records Act, they belong to the American people.
“Without the preservation of the records of government, and without access to them, you can’t have an informed population, and without an informed population, you lack one of the basic tools to preserving democracy,” former acting archivist Trudy Peterson told the Post.
Now, the Justice Department and the intelligence community are working to assess the potential security threat caused by the improper storage of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.
Trump has unleashed a torrent of rage against other federal workers attempting to enforce laws.
Extremists erupted online, posting calls for a civil war and for Americans to “lock and load” after Trump and a number of Republican lawmakers used incendiary language to attack the FBI and the Department of Justice over the search of Trump’s Florida residence.
Federal authorities warned of a spike in threats to law enforcement after Trump’s attacks in a joint intelligence bulletin by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, warning agents to be vigilant.
An organization of FBI agents issued a forceful statement sharply criticizing threats and calls for violence against agents.
“Calls for violence against law enforcement are unacceptable, and should be condemned by all leaders,” said the statement issued by the FBI Agents Association. “This is not a partisan or political issue. It is a matter of public safety and basic decency.”