National Archives Says All Presidents Starting with Reagan Mishandled Documents

( – The nation’s repository of official documents says every presidential administration going back to 1980 has handled classified documents improperly.

On May 17th, the House Intelligence Committee decided to release a full transcript of the testimony given in April by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). That committee is looking into the handling of classified papers by former President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

Both the current and former presidents have been in the headlines repeatedly in late 2022 and spring 2023 regarding the discovery of classified papers at their personal residences. In June of 2022, the FBI raided Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home to find what critics said were classified documents.

Earlier this year, lawyers working for President Joe Biden said they had discovered several documents marked classified stored in the garage of Biden’s home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Meanwhile, Mike Pence contacted the national archives to disclose that he had classified papers in his personal office.

According to NARA, this is nothing new. The Archives’ Chief Operating Officer William Bosanko testified to the House committee that every presidential administration “from Reagan forward” had classified information in “unclassified boxes.”

Ronald Reagan, a former Hollywood actor and former California Governor, won the presidency in 1980 against incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter. Since then, Reagan’s stature in the Republican Party has approached mythical status.

NARA’s testimony seemed to contradict the widespread perception that Donald Trump was uniquely lax in handling classified documents. Bosanko said NARA was unaware of any missing classified information in Trump’s presidential records, but that they were aware of “missing records.” It is not clear what the substantive difference may be.

Bosanko also noted that the Presidential Records Act gives American commanders-in-chief broad discretion in how to apply record-keeping standards.

While NARA did eventually discover some missing classified documents in the Trump records, Bosanko said Trump staff quickly located those and offered more that they had discovered.

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