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Presidential Records Act
The Presidential Records Act (PRA) of 1978, 44 U.S.C.§§ 2201-2207, is an Act of Congress of the United States governing the official records of Presidents and Vice Presidents created or received after January 20, 1981, and mandating the preservation of all presidential records. Enacted November 4, 1978, the PRA changed the legal ownership of the official records of the President from private to public, and established a new statutory structure under which Presidents must manage their records. The PRA was amended in 2014, including prohibition of sending electronic records through non-official accounts unless an official account is copied on the transmission, or a copy is forwarded to an official account shortly after creation.
Establishment and responsibility
Specifically, the Presidential Records Act:
Defines and states public ownership of the records.
Places the responsibility for the custody and management of incumbent Presidential records with the President.
Allows the incumbent President to dispose of records that no longer have administrative, historical, informational, or evidentiary value, once he or she has obtained the views of the Archivist of the United States on the proposed disposal.
Requires that the President and his staff take all practical steps to file personal records separately from Presidential records.
Establishes a process for restriction and public access to these records. Specifically, the PRA allows for public access to Presidential records through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) beginning five years after the end of the Administration, but allows the President to invoke as many as six specific restrictions to public access for up to twelve years. The PRA also establishes procedures for Congress, courts, and subsequent administrations to obtain special access to records that remain closed to the public, following a 30‑day notice period to the former and current Presidents.
Requires that Vice-Presidential records are to be treated in the same way as Presidential records.
Executive Order 13233 - this executive order, issued by President George W. Bush on November 1, 2001, supersedes the previous executive order. The Bush executive order also includes the documents of former Vice Presidents.
In June 2018, Politico reported that President Donald Trump frequently and routinely would tear up papers he received, resulting in government officials taping them together for archiving to ensure that Trump did not violate the Presidential Records Act.
In July 2018, Business Insider reported that President Trump gave his personal cellphone number to various world leaders, having unrecorded conversations with them completely without U.S. officials' knowledge.
In July 2018, CNN reported that The White House had suspended the practice of publishing public summaries of President Donald Trump's phone calls with world leaders, two sources with knowledge of the situation told CNN, bringing an end to a common exercise from the Republican and Democratic administrations.