National Archives are allowing records to be destroyed.
When Franklin D. Roosevelt established the first presidential library almost 80 years ago — his own, in Hyde Park, N.Y. — he called it “an act of faith.”
He wrote: “To bring together the records of the past and to house them in buildings where they will be preserved for the use of men and women in the future, a Nation must believe in three things: It must believe in the past. It must believe in the future. It must, above all, believe in the capacity of its own people so to learn from the past that they can gain in judgement in creating their own future.”
So what are we supposed to believe, when we no longer seem to have the capacity even to preserve a record of the past, much less learn anything from it? One thing is clear: When politicians, caught committing malfeasance, claim that they will let future historians judge, you can’t possibly believe them.
President Trump has long made it a practice to tear up his papersand throw them away. It is a clear violation of the Presidential Records Act, which is supposed to prevent another Watergate-style cover-up. When the National Archives sent staff members to tape these records together, the White House fired them.
In 2017, a normally routine document released by the archives, a records retention schedule, revealed that archivists had agreed that officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement could delete or destroy documents detailing the sexual abuse and death of undocumented immigrants. Tens of thousands of people posted critical comments, and dozens of senators and representatives objected. The National Archives made some changes to the plan, but last month it announced that ICE could go ahead and start destroying records from Mr. Trump’s first year, including detainees’ complaints about civil rights violations and shoddy medical care.