Filed Under: Politics

Presidential Records Act: Tracking documents from Watergate to Mar-a-Lago

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The National Archives removed several boxes of presidential documents from former President Donald Trump’s Florida residence. It did so in accordance with the Presidential Records Act of 1978. 

Congress passed the Presidential Records Act following President Nixon’s Watergate scandal. Before then, presidential records belonged to the president and were his to handle as he pleased. To access transcripts and tapes from the Nixon Administration, Congress passed the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act.

The PRMPA only applied to President Nixon, so soon after he left office, Congress passed the Presidential Records Act to apply to all presidents, starting with President Ronald Reagan.

Under the PRA, all presidential documents are owned by the public, rather than the president following his time in office. The law also says that after leaving office, all of the presidential record goes to the National Archives. The presidential record includes all documentary material from the president, the vice president, and certain executive staff. According to the code, documentary material includes “all books, correspondence, memoranda, documents, papers, pamphlets, works of art, models, pictures, photographs, plats, maps, films, and motion pictures, including, but not limited to, audio and visual records, or other electronic or mechanical recordations, whether in analog, digital, or any other form.”

 

WHEN PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP WAS IN OFFICE, COMEDIANS TARGETED HIM

AFTER REPORTS HE RIPPED UP OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS.

TAKE SOT-DAILY SHOW

“SOMETIMES, YOU KNOW, IT’LL JUST BE ONE BIG RIP DOWN THE MIDDLE, AND SOMETIMES IT WOULD BE LIKE CONFETTI.

Annie Andersen: THEN HIS STAFF HAD TO TAPE THEM BACK TOGETHER AGAIN.

WHY, BECAUSE OF THE PRESIDENTIAL RECORDS ACT… THE NEXT PAGE IN OUR D-C DICTIONARY.

THE PRESIDENTIAL RECORDS ACT OF 1978 FINDS ITS ROOTS IN WHAT MIGHT BE THE MOST FAMOUS HOTEL IN AMERICA –

THE WATERGATE.

WHEN THE SCANDAL BROKE, NIXON WANTED TO DESTROY THOSE NOW INFAMOUS TAPES.

TAKE SOT- Richard NIXON (FROM TAPES)

<<”Goddammit, I’m never going to discuss this son-of-a-bitching Watergate thing again”>>

Annie Andersen BUT CONGRESS WASN’T HAVING IT.

AT THE TIME, THE PRESIDENT’S OFFICIAL RECORDS WERE PRIVATE.

TAKE SOT-Gary Stern, General Counsel, National Archives

<<”they could literally do whatever they wanted with them.”>>

Annie Andersen: SO IN 1974 CONGRESS PASSED THE Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act TO

SEIZE NIXON’S TAPES AND PAPERS SENDING THEM TO THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES.

But IT ONLY APPLIED TO NIXON…

SO FOUR YEARS LATER, Congress PASSED THE P-R-A GIVING THE GOVERNMENT OWNERSHIP OF PRESIDENTIAL RECORDS.

TAKE SOT-Nixon Library LIBRARIAN

<<anything the President creates as part of his official duties, comes to the National Archives automatically, at the end of the administration.”>>

Annie Andersen: UNTIL THAT TIME… THE DOCUMENTS ARE KEPT WITH THE PRESIDENT AND HIS STAFF.

SO WHAT’S COVERED?… “documentary material” including.. books , correspondence, documents, papers and a bunch of other stuff from the president, vp and executive branch staff working alongside the president.

THE LAW ALSO

-SETS UP THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES AS HEAD BOSS.

-THEY GET TO DECIDE IF A RECORD HAS ANY VALUE.

-AND WHEN OR IF THEY ARE RELEASED TO THE PUBLIC.

MOST RECORDS ARE RELEASED AFTER FIVE YEARS… WITH EXCEPTIONS OF COURSE.

BUT EVEN THOSE EXCEPTIONS GENERALLY END AFTER 12 YEARS.

AND In 2014- the law was updated to INCLUDE electronic communication.

MAKING IT CLEAR, IT  can’t be sent from a private account unless a government account is either copied or forwarded

WHAT’S NOT PART OF THE PRESIDENTIAL RECORD?

NAT POP- BRITNEY SPEARS

<<”DEAR DIARY…”>>

Annie Andersen: YEP… DIARIES ARE PRIVATE BUSINESS.. UNLESS THEY TALK ABOUT PRESIDENTIAL BUSINESS.

ELECTION CAMPAIGN MATERIALS.

Now that you know what the Presidential Records ACt is, WANT ANOTHER PHRASE BROKEN DOWN for OUR next  DC DICTIONARY? LET ME KNOW!

The National Archives removed several boxes of presidential documents from former President Donald Trump’s Florida residence. It did so in accordance with the Presidential Records Act of 1978. 

Congress passed the Presidential Records Act following President Nixon’s Watergate scandal. Before then, presidential records belonged to the president and were his to handle as he pleased. To access transcripts and tapes from the Nixon Administration, Congress passed the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act.

The PRMPA only applied to President Nixon, so soon after he left office, Congress passed the Presidential Records Act to apply to all presidents, starting with President Ronald Reagan.

Under the PRA, all presidential documents are owned by the public, rather than the president following his time in office. The law also says that after leaving office, all of the presidential record goes to the National Archives. The presidential record includes all documentary material from the president, the vice president, and certain executive staff. According to the code, documentary material includes “all books, correspondence, memoranda, documents, papers, pamphlets, works of art, models, pictures, photographs, plats, maps, films, and motion pictures, including, but not limited to, audio and visual records, or other electronic or mechanical recordations, whether in analog, digital, or any other form.”

 

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