The problem of improper handling of sensitive documents by elected officials, which embroiled both President Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump, dates back decades to the Jimmy Carter presidency.
Former Vice President Mike Pence became the youngest senior official to keep classified records when he confirmed on Tuesday that materials marked as classified were found at his Indiana home.
Concerns about the botched handling of such materials grabbed the headlines for months after the FBI retrieved documents from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida last August.
As of November 2, secret records were found at Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware and at the Penn Biden Center in Washington.
Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed special counsel to investigate the cases of Biden and Trump.
But they weren’t the first presidents to face the issue.
Former President Jimmy Carter on at least one occasion found classified documents at his home in Plains, Georgia, and returned them to the National Archives and Records Administration, which holds the president’s papers, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
It was unclear when the items were found.
A Carter Center employee gave no further details about the discovery at Carter’s home.
Carter left the White House in January 1981.
A representative for former President Barack Obama told The Post that all of his administration’s classified documents were turned over to the National Archives after he left office and the agency continues to hold them. The spokesman did not say whether Obama’s files were checked for sensitive information following the Trump, Biden and Pence controversies.
Spokespersons for other former presidents — the late George HW Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush — have confirmed that their records have also been turned over to the National Archives as required by law, CNN reported.
Former officials at all levels of government obtain classified information several times a year and turn it over to federal agencies, an AP person familiar with the matter said.
While there are precise processes for reviewing and storing records, these guidelines are sometimes skipped by national security officials, secretaries, and military aides out of convenience, expediency, or even negligence.
There is a difference in how the intelligence agencies deal with mishandling of such documents, with penalties that can include termination, revoked security clearances, or prosecution.
“Executives go back and forth to their house with documents and read them. They read them at night and bring them back,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) told the AP, noting that senior Senate assistants are required to keep classified information in secure rooms in the Capitol.
“I can see that happening,” Kaine said. “But every situation is different here. They are all very serious. So how many? How serious? how did you get them Who had access to it? are you cooperative And the same questions need to be answered in relation to Pence and with President Biden and President Trump.”
Federal laws govern the handling, retention, and distribution of classified information, but they are rarely enforced. Hillary Clinton was under investigation for storing classified documents on her private email server while she was secretary of state in the Obama administration — a practice that became one of the main issues of the 2016 presidential campaign.
Former George W. Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was also investigated for misappropriating sensitive records, but has not been prosecuted.
While federal law prohibits the keeping of classified documents in unauthorized locations, it can only be prosecuted if it is determined that the person “knowingly” removed the files from an appropriate location.
Sometimes mishandled documents are returned without provoking national coverage, the report said.
“The National Archives has historically operated under an honor system with each administration,” Tim Naftali, the first director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, told the AP. “They work for the president and the vice president and have partnerships with all these past presidents and vice presidents.”
https://nypost.com/2023/01/25/mishandling-of-classified-records-stretches-back-to-carter-administration/ The abuse of classified records dates back to the Carter administration