Congress has issued a warning for U.S. President Donald Trump: stop deleting your tweets because you may be violating federal law.
On Wednesday, Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Elijah Cummings, chairman and ranking member of the House Oversight Committee respectively, sent a letter to White House counsel Don McGahn expressing concerns about the Trump administration’s record keeping habits. Furthermore, the congressmen voiced disapproval for its nontransparent use of social media, as well as other forms of online communication.
The lawmakers cited some examples in order to prove their point, including the President’s habit of misspelling words in tweets and then deleting them. The two congressmen warned that actions like this “could pose a violation to the Presidential Records Act” if the deleted tweets are not properly archived.
“Many of the messages sent from [@realDonaldTrump and @POTUS] are likely to be presidential records and therefore must be preserved. It has been reported, however, that President Trump has deleted tweets, and if those tweets were not archived, it could pose a violation of the Presidential Records Act.”
Over this past weekend alone, the President deleted two tweets that misspelled “hereby.”
Chaffetz and Cummings also asked the White House to look into whether or not federal officials are using personal email accounts to conduct government business in their letter. As a part of the Presidential Records Act, the White House must forward emails sent from those accounts to their government account within 20 days of sending. They explained that “official business must be conducted in such a way as to preserve the official record of actions taken by the federal government and its employees.”
The lawmakers also raised concerns about the ethical implications of using apps that encrypt messages like Signal and Confide.
“The need for data security, however, does not justify circumventing requirements established by federal recordkeeping and transparency laws.”
To remedy this, they asked the White House to conduct trainings on proper record keeping and archiving of social media, email and other messaging systems, and urged the administration to clarify its policies on such matters.