The peaceful transfer of power, even when troubled, remains a hallmark of our democracy. The transition from one presidential administration to the next includes the transfer of extraordinary powers and responsibilities. And it requires the cataloging, preserving, and transfer of tremendous amounts of information.
That’s how it's supposed to go, anyway.
Preserving and passing along that information is a practical necessity in order for our government to keep functioning when a new administration comes in. It’s also legally required by the Presidential Records Act and the Federal Records Act.
“The documents created by each administration belong to the public, not our temporary leaders.”
More importantly, it’s fundamental to democracy. The documents created by each administration belong to the public, not our temporary leaders.
The Trump administration’s attitude toward record preservation has sparked fears among many in the oversight community that the transition period could see a race against the clock to destroy, alter, or remove documents rather than catalog and preserve them.
Over the past few years, this administration has demonstrated recklessness with our public records and disregard for the laws and norms meant to safeguard them. The president routinely destroyed vital documents, compelling aides to attempt to salvage some with Scotch tape; officials communicated using encrypted apps that delete their messages and made other efforts to skirt public records requirements.
As the Trump administration’s exit nears, it’s essential to ensure that all necessary documents are properly preserved.
Whistleblowers are the public’s first line of defense against abuse of power and play a critical role in exposing wrongdoing. If you’ve witnessed destruction of official administration documents or records, you can contact us securely to report it. The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) has decades’ worth of experience working with whistleblowers, and we can help tell their stories and protect their identities.