Obama Did Not Keep Classified Documents

Obama Did Not Keep Classified Documents

Seeking to deflect attention from reports that the classified documents he had kept in his Florida home might have contained materials related to nuclear weapons, former President Donald J. Trump claimed on Friday that his predecessor, Barack Obama, had done the same thing.

“President Barack Hussein Obama kept 33 million pages of documents, much of them classified,” Mr. Trump said in a statement. “How many of them pertained to nuclear? Word is, lots!”

But the National Archives and Records Administration, or NARA, which preserves and maintains records after a president leaves office, confirmed on Friday afternoon that Mr. Obama had turned over his documents — classified and unclassified — as required under the Presidential Records Act of 1978.

The National Archives “assumed exclusive legal and physical custody of Obama presidential records when President Barack Obama left office in 2017, in accordance with the Presidential Records Act,” the statement said. “NARA moved approximately 30 million pages of unclassified records to a NARA facility in the Chicago area, where they are maintained exclusively by NARA. Additionally, NARA maintains the classified Obama presidential records in a NARA facility in the Washington, DC, area.”

“As required by the PRA,” the statement added, referring to the Presidential Records Act, “former President Obama has no control over where and how NARA stores the presidential records of his administration.”

A spokesman for Mr. Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In 2017, the National Archives announced that the Obama presidential records were in its possession and that it would preserve them in an archival facility rather than in a traditional presidential library. It said it would digitize all unclassified records using funding from the Obama Foundation. “Classified records will be stored in the Washington, DC, area, where they can more efficiently and effectively be secured and reviewed for declassification,” the announcement said. “As classified records are declassified and released, NARA will make them available in digitized form.”

The National Archives and the Obama Foundation provided status updates on the digitization of the records in a 2018 letter and a 2019 memorandum of understanding.