President Trump has repeatedly tried to conceal the content of his meetings with President Putin. The unusual relationship between Presidents Trump and Putin is well-documented, and the pair have met five times since 2017. In his first meeting with the Russian government, President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian ambassador and foreign minister.

Following at least one private meeting, President Trump seized notes taken by a State Department interpreter, and—breaching the diplomatic best practice of including national security aides at such meetings—he refused to allow anyone besides First Lady Melania Trump to attend a private conversation he had with President Putin at the November 2018 G20 summit in Argentina.

The Federal Records Act requires that Secretary Pompeo preserve all State Department records, which include the Trump-Putin meeting notes prepared by State Department employees. By seizing those notes, the President has violated the Federal Records Act, and Secretary Pompeo violates the law by failing to take meaningful steps to recover those records. In addition to requiring that meeting notes of this kind be preserved, federal law also requires that Secretary Pompeo refer President Trump’s unlawful seizure of State Department records to the Department of Justice for investigation and enforcement.

We’ve taken legal action to request that State comply with the law within 60 days. We’ve demanded State notify the Archivist of the United States of instances where notes pertaining to private meetings between President Trump and President Putin were seized or destroyed, and that either Secretary Pompeo or the Archivist retrieve from the President’s custody any relevant meeting notes and refer the President’s unlawful seizure of notes to the Attorney General for further investigation and enforcement.

We await State’s response and subsequent action within 60 days. Secretary Pompeo can’t turn a blind eye to the President’s brazen seizure of important public records. Federal law requires him to take action.

Nitin Shah

Senior Counsel

Holding the Executive Branch accountable through litigation.

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Ben Seel

Counsel & Legal Analyst

Focusing on justice, national security, immigration, and health care issues.

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