According to a report by POLITICO, aides who worked in President Donald Trump’s White House, transition and campaign team will need to hand over all documents that relate to the Russian probe conducted by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. Anyone who fails to do so will face criminal charges.
“Now that Trump’s current and former aides and allies officially know a probe exists, they’re responsible for preserving all available information that might be relevant,” POLITICO stated. “That’s a task complicated by the rise of auto-delete apps like Confide, Signal and WhatsApp, as well as the move his campaign staffers have made into the White House.”
“Hanging over them all: any failure to keep track of emails, messages and other records could expose them to criminal charges down the line,” writer Darren Samuelsohn said.
Even though technology has advanced significantly since the last probe into presidential files, investigators have all the tools they need to retrieve the information they are looking for.
The Senate Judiciary Committee told the president and his staff in February that they need organize all materials connected to Russia’s tampering with last year’s presidential election.
According to the Associated Press, Trump’s top White House lawyer, Don McGahn told the president’s staff “to save all materials that could potentially be relevant for investigating into Russia’s interference.”
“Under U.S. criminal law,” Samuelsohn wrote, “documents must be preserved once an individual is aware they may become relevant to an investigation, even if there’s no formal notice one has begun.”
“The rule of law depends on lawyers and other sworn public servants actually caring to follow it — preserving documents, not tampering with evidence, not interfering with investigations,” Ian Bassin said. “This takes knowledge of the rules and effort to abide by them, two things that seem to be in short supply in this White House. They’d be wise to fix that quickly if they want to avoid what can be serious legal consequences for individual lawyers and staffers who get this stuff wrong.”