Trump's chats with Kim Jong-un missing, archivist tells lawyers

US National Archives lawyer asked for presidential record documents to be handed over

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The top lawyer at the National Archives told White House lawyers in May 2021 that the administration had failed to turn over correspondence between former president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

“There are also now certain paper-textual records that we cannot account for,” Gary Stern, general counsel for the National Archives and Records Administration, wrote on May 6, 2021.

The email was addressed to Patrick Philbin, the former deputy White House counsel, his deputy, Scott Gast, and a Trump lawyer, Mike Purpura.

Mr Stern also said Mr Trump failed to turn over a letter that former president Barack Obama left for him during the transition, which is a long-standing tradition between US presidents.

“For example, the original correspondence between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un were not transferred to us," he said.

"It is our understanding that in January 2021, just prior to the end of the administration, the originals were put in a binder for the president but were never returned to the Office of Records Management for transfer to Nara.

“It is essential that these original records be transferred to Nara as soon as possible.”

Those records are now part of a Justice Department investigation into dozens of boxes of documents that the FBI seized in the search of Mr Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

Some contained material classified at the highest level of Top Secret-Sensitive Compartmentalised Information.

Mr Stern said that the letter Mr Obama left for Mr Trump was also considered a presidential record, was unaccounted for and should be returned.

He said Nara had learnt that two dozen boxes of original presidential records were kept in the White House residence during Mr Trump’s last year in office “and have not been transferred to Nara, despite a determination by Pat Cipollone in the final days of the administration that they need to be".

Mr Cipollone was Mr Trump’s White House counsel from 2018 until the end of the administration.

The missing correspondence between Mr Kim and Mr Trump was revealed in The New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman’s book, Confidence Man.

That discovery led to a year-long negotiation between the federal government and Mr Trump, who refused to return documents, claiming he had declassified them or did not have them, prompting the August 8 FBI search.

Updated: October 03, 2022, 11:35 PM