American Patriots Deleting Presidential Records: Ivanka’s Destruction of Evidence about an Ongoing Conspiracy

Yesterday, the Archives sent House Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney a letter on all the gaps in the production of social media records under Donald Trump’s White House. It describes that the efforts to capture the former President’s tweets were inadequate. It then explains that there was no effort to capture the deleted social media content from other White House staffers until 2018, and even then, some people were not enrolled until just before the end of the Administration.

The Trump White House did not take any steps to capture deleted content from any Trump Administration social media account other than @realDonaldTrump or @POTUS prior to enrolling them with ArchiveSocial. As with @realDonaldTrump, many other Trump Administration social media accounts were not enrolled until the summer or fall of 2018, even though these accounts were active for over a year prior to enrollment, during which time deleted or modified Presidential record content was not captured. Other accounts were not enrolled until just prior to the end of the administration.

It then lists seven people whose Twitter traffic was not captured by the White House. Ivanka was among those seven.

NARA identified seven Twitter accounts that we think contain presidential record information, but were not captured by the Trump Administration. These accounts belonged to Andrew Giuliani, Chad Gilmartin, Ivanka Trump, Kayleigh McEnany, Kellyanne Conway, Mark Meadows, and Peter Navarro. After the end of the administration, NARA obtained the publicly available tweets from these accounts in order to supplement its archival collection.

That’s important because Ivanka tweeted things on January 6 that are central to both the FBI and Select Committee investigations into that day, including a tweet in which she encouraged the rioters, but called on them to avoid violence.

This is the tweet she cited in a statement released after the Select Committee invited her to formally disavow the agreement her father entered into with multiple charged conspiracies.

Ivanka Trump just learned that the Jan. 6 Committee issued a public letter asking her to appear. As the Committee already knows, Ivanka did not speak at the January 6 rally. As she publicly stated that day at 3:15pm, “any security breach or disrespect to our law enforcement is unacceptable. The violence must stop immediately. Please be peaceful.”

But as CNN reported the day of the riot, Ivanka deleted the tweet minutes after sending it, thereby violating the Presidential Records Act. (h/t SB for reminding me she had deleted tweets)

As the Guardian reported Thursday, the Select Committee is considering subpoenaing Ivanka.

The House select committee investigating the Capitol attack is considering issuing a subpoena to Ivanka Trump to force her cooperation with the inquiry into Donald Trump’s efforts to return himself to power on 6 January, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Any move to subpoena Ivanka Trump and, for the first time, force a member of Trump’s own family to testify against him, would mark a dramatic escalation in the 6 January inquiry that could amount to a treacherous legal and political moment for the former president.

The panel is not expected to take the crucial step for the time being, the source said, and the prospect of a subpoena to the former president’s daughter emerged in discussions about what options remained available after she appeared to refuse a request for voluntary cooperation.

But the fact that members on the select committee have started to discuss a subpoena suggests they believe it may ultimately take such a measure – and the threat of prosecution should she defy it – to ensure her appearance at a deposition on Capitol Hill.

If they subpoena her, she will be obligated, by law, to turn over all the records pertinent to that day, including that tweet she sent, hailing the rioters who had obstructed the vote certification, but disclaiming violence.

The Archives seems to believe she may be unable to produce an original copy of that tweet. (This would be the case if she was among the people whose tweets “were not enrolled [in the archiving system] until just prior to the end of the administration.”)

The Presidential Records Act has no legal teeth. Ivanka will not get in legal trouble for the act of deleting that tweet itself. But given that she (and the White House) had an affirmative obligation to ensure that did get archived, having deleted it may pose other kinds of legal jeopardy for her.

Relatedly, as you’ve likely heard, Judge Amit Mehta upheld part of the conspiracy lawsuits against the former President based, in part, on a reading that Trump’s later tweets encouraging rioters could be seen as ratifying the violence. Here’s that decision, which I’ll return to.

Updated to clarify that this may have automatically been archived, depending on whether and when her tweets were enrolled in the automatic archiving system.

60 replies
  1. oldoilfieldhand says:

    Thank you, as always, for your “tour de force” examination of the issues that the MSM seems prone to ignore, and detailed reporting on the corruption of the former administration. One question: Why refer to Ivanka Trump as “the daughter of the former president”, when that is exactly how she always refers to herself? Ivanka Trump wasn’t just the daughter of the disgraced, twice-impeached, serial lying former president; she, along with her husband Jared Kushner, were unpaid Senior White House Advisers to the disgraced, twice impeached, former president.

  2. Peterr says:

    If Ivanka or others had advance knowledge that Trump was going to call for folks to march to the Capitol, that might cause Mehta to revisit his ruling in favor of Rudy and Don Jr and against Don Sr.

    The same might also apply to certain members of Congress . . .

    • emptywheel says:

      Yes. If I’m a plaintiff, I appeal, because I’m certain and Bennie Thompson likely knows that by the time that is litigated, there will be proof that Mo Brooks and Ivanka and Rudy had advance knowledge.

  3. Tim Tuttle says:

    I keep wondering if their records actions (or lack of) were laziness, incompetence, something far more nefarious (premeditated).

    I can’t imagine anyone on team trump (specifically meadows) who would have taken the time to bone up on the legally required protocol.

    We received precisely what we expected when we woke up that morning in November 2016: a complete shit-show. The proverbial runaway train fueled by corruption, mediocrity, and opportunity.

    Is there one silver lining? Yes, this will possibly bring the trump family down once and for all. Their crime spree is effectively coming to an end. Once they can no longer provide Intel and money laundering operations to various actors globally, they will become officially persona non grata. No one ever liked these people for their personalities. It was simply the cost of doing business.

    • Norskeflamthrower says:

      “Their crime spree is effectively coming to an end.”

      From your mouth to God’s ears…but I don’t think he’s listening because Dumpster’s criminality is indigenous to American capitalism. If anything he has made it almost unbreakable.

    • BobCon says:

      There were detailed in person briefings during the new hire process on proper record keeping requirements both in general and in terms of classified materials, and there were also followup memos.

      Everyone working in the White House knew what they were doing, although prosecuting is another story.

        • Leoghann says:

          Of course Meadows knew. He may have thought that knowledge and compliance didn’t matter because he was working for the orange guy, but he knew.

        • timbo says:

          Kash Patel surely knew. I mean, he went after his political targets while on Nunes watch during investigations by the Congress.

    • eyesoars says:

      Do we know that Trump’s daily presidential briefings stopped when he left office? Traditionally, ex-presidents get them too, although I can understand why an exception might be made this time.

        • Lady4real says:

          I think there’s a strategy in continuing those PDB, in that the US can keep their eyes and ears out for an echo coming from Trump.

        • Rugger9 says:

          Not necessary as long as Individual-1 keeps putting out ’45th POTUS’ statements, continues his touring and tweets via his surrogates. Remember, Vlad has him by the short hairs because of the 400 or so M$ debt payments coming due this year and Mazars’ letter makes it very hard to restructure.

        • Marinela says:

          Read that Trump loan of around $100+ M is due Sept 2022. The rest of the 1/2 billion loans are due in the next four years.
          So he will have no problem refinancing the one in Sept. maybe at higher rate, but the lender is Trump friendly.
          What I don’t get, if he is worth billions, he should have no problem handling a 100M loan that balloons, even if he is strapped for cash. Is not like the loan maturity is unknown time, he knows about the terms years in advance so it should be really easy for a billionaire to plan for these loans.

          But if you are using own PAC money to funnel them as payments for office space at your own Trump Tower hotel, while having the office space empty and producing nothing, then some of it explains why he is so bad on managing any business.
          If the only value you add is from shady maneuverings, wheeling’s and dealings.
          Like Melania, she creates FTPs whose value gets inflated because he adds her own money.

        • P J Evans says:

          The claim that he’s worth billions is his – and is based on golf courses and hotels built on air with other people’s money.

        • Dave_MB says:

          Don’t forget the Mazars situation and that Trump Org is under indictment for tax fraud. He’ll have problems getting a loan from even a semi-legitimate source.

    • Spencer Dawkins says:

      My note of encouragement is that “premeditation” requires “meditation”, and the definitions of “meditate” that I’m finding involve “thinking deeply”.

      I’m pretty sure anyone in the Trump administration who “thought deeply” quickly left the Trump administration, so we’re back to “laziness, incompetence” in your list. Please share my joy.

  4. Ben Soares says:

    …. there seems to be a whole lot of threads, that MUST be pulled on. National Security issues seemed tethered to this Administration, for the foreseeable future. I keep wondering what Putin’s narrative will be. I wonder if its already in play. I wonder if we can expect stolen RNC data to be comingled in the story. Whatever happened to all the NRA political capital, and influence that was thrown around all these years? They seem neutered, in a sense. Time will tell I guess.

  5. joel fisher says:

    The “legal teeth” for Trumpworld is getting them in a witness chair and asking questions. The lies come forth, even when they are talking about civil matters; they just can’t help themselves.

    • Kenster42 says:

      I wouldn’t be so sure about that, except for the some of the really dumb ones – while there are not many examples out there, take a look at the few times Trump has been deposed under oath. Completely different guy, very careful in his speech. And DJT Jr. pled the fifth over 500 times in Tish James’ civil case against the Trump Org. And let’s not forget that Trump refused to use email, preferred in-person conversations with no recordings and had a habit of grabbing other folks’ cell phones to make calls when necessary. Classic mob boss tactics. As much as I hate the guy, he’s frankly an evil genius at it and has slipped the noose of accountability literally for at least the last 45 years.

  6. civil says:

    Unsurprising that Ivanka partially quotes her deleted tweet and omits that she referred to the insurrectionists as “American Patriots.”

    When NARA says “After the end of the administration, NARA obtained the publicly available tweets from these accounts in order to supplement its archival collection,” I wonder how they went about this work. For example, would NARA consider Ivanka’s 1/6/21 3:15pm deleted tweet to be publicly available, since a number of other people have public screenshots of it? People also used the Internet Archive to archive at least some of the seven Twitter accounts at times. Here’s Ivanka’s:*/ (unfortunately archived only once on 1/6/2021, after she had already deleted the tweet in question).

    • emptywheel says:

      Given what they said about Trump’s tweets, yes. But it would not qualify as an official presidential record.

      • Rugger9 says:

        I’m not so sure about that since Individual-1 himself acknowledged the tweets are official (I think he was firing someone). So in the general case you would be correct but remember who’s using the platform and why.

        • skua says:

          Provenance, in the sense of reliability of accurate transmission, might tell against public screenshots.
          But might an Internet Archive record of a webpage, if it can demonstrate adequate security and accuracy for their system be good enough?

        • skua says:

          Any digital image can be faked/altered.
          Screenshots of Tweets with their low resolution and fairly simple image elements would probably be relatively easy.

    • emptywheel says:

      We’re in Limerick now, far enough inland such that the big winds don’t hit directly. We used to live literally across the street from the bay, where even regular storms were pretty crazy.

  7. Chirrut Imwe says:

    “The Presidential Records Act has no legal teeth. Ivanka will not get in legal trouble for the act of deleting that tweet itself. But given that she (and the White House) had an affirmative obligation to ensure that did get archived, having deleted it may pose other kinds of legal jeopardy for her.”

    If not via of the PRA, how else can deleting the tweet create legal jeopardy for her?

      • Chirrut Imwe says:

        Even though there was not yet a criminal investigation at the time she deleted the tweet?

        And as always, thanks for all you do.

        • emptywheel says:

          I think it can be argued that since Ivanka had an affirmative obligation to preserve everything if anything is gone when an investigation gets started she’s responsible.

        • Leoghann says:

          It’s a similar situation to all those insurrectionists who deleted various posts from their social media accounts (or the entire accounts) after Jan-6. Even though they weren’t yet under investigation, they had reason to believe they had broken the law, and arguably deleted their stuff to avoid those investigations.

      • BobCon says:

        I’d be curious whether chronic violation of the PRA plays into investigating handling of classified materials, possibly as grounds for opening an investigation or maybe as contributing to justification for a search warrant on a device after an investigation has started for other reasons.

        • bmaz says:

          There is much more than the PRA. Is there a desire to go there within the statute of limitations? Not so sure about that. Unfortunately.

  8. Marinela says:

    What was Ivanka’s motivation when deleting the tweet? Was she concerned that Trump base may see it and revolt that she was not supporting them 100%? Because she deleted the tweet, can she legally point to it as her defense? Looks like she is trying to have it both ways.

    • J R in WV says:

      I can’t tell you all how disappointed I am that the meme that “The Internet Never Forgets!” is seemingly just an empty slogan. I guess random people may have captured images of these deleted twits and posts, phone messages, and emails… but how could prosecutors ever go about locating and verifying those captured items?

      They can’t…


      • Ralf Maximus says:

        I am not a twitter admin, but have worked on other large messaging projects and I will bet you $1 that twitter NEVER deletes anything. Instead they set a “deleted” flag in the record that hides it from view. Storage is absurdly cheap, data is valuable for all sorts of reasons. There’s no downside (for to retain everyone’s data forever, and lots of upsides.

        Pretty sure a warrant is all it would take to get those deleted tweets.

        • timbo says:

          Some social media (and other commerce companies) have public notices that do state that they delete certain or all types of personal user data information (data, meta-data, etc) after some set period of time. (Unfortunately, as just one example, Google appears to be one of those companies where these particular balls archived of data and meta-data deletion times seem to perpetually moving about…) The problem is saying that you’re going to keep everything that your users, customers, etc, generate and then having to meet legal problems if you don’t—so it is easier to state you won’t or have no contractual obligation to maintain data past a certain point (even though maybe you did keep data past a certain point).

          In any case, there’s no really great immediate need for many of these businesses (and other Internet organizations) to maintain data they no longer want, provided they aren’t legally required to maintain such archives, etc. I think the error comes in when people assume that data that was on the Internet no longer exists simply because they can’t find it on the Internet now. You should always assume that it may still exist but not bet on being able to find that data in discovery. I grant you that a company like Twitter likely does have more data then their legal counsels even know they have… but still, there’s gotta be a limit on how far discovery can go when it comes to firing up old equipment and expertise, especially when there was no legal requirement in the past that any of that equipment (and related expertise) be maintained, etc.

    • timbo says:

      People are trying to have it both ways on the Internet all the time. I think Ivanka is incredibly unlikely to face any direct legal repercussions from any of this unless there’s a heap of affirmative evidence that she was involved deeply in a conspiracy of some sort. Note that I used the term “direct” here in that if the Trump family supposed wealth and good name (heh) go down the tubes further and bigly then there are all sorts of problems down the pike for her and the rest of the Trump family…maybe?

  9. Oldguy99 says:

    Maybe a state could pass a law voicing its support for the provisions of the Presidential Records Act, and allow Plaintiffs who have no connection to the person committing the potential violation sue in that state’s courts and recover legal fees, as well as $10,000. A state like New York or New Jersey, where a potential target has attachable assets.

  10. Marika says:

    I see Kellyanne Conway in there…I wonder why she has gotten so little attention in all this. Has she been questioned? She certainly knew the rules and was known to play fast and loose with the Hatch Act…

  11. pdaly says:

    From Judge Mehta’s recent decision (link in the original post above) I learned a new phrase:

    “alleged joint tortfeasors”

    Will start using that in casual conversation as a placeholder until ‘convicted criminals’ becomes applicable (if and when criminal cases catch up to these civil cases).

    • Savage Librarian says:

      Simple But Not Easy

      Asked what is the hardest thing
      she readily replied,
      What wounds with the deepest sting
      is not that we have lied.

      It’s not that I am made a fool
      or ridiculed non-stop,
      It’s not that I may break a rule
      or sporadically flip flop.

      It’s simple but not easy,
      My life could not be odder,
      At times it’s made me queasy:
      Donald’s my alma mater.

      I am my father’s daughter,
      with all that it inflicts,
      Come hell or high water,
      whoever it convicts.

      • David B Pittard says:

        Good poem, goes down easily unless it sticks in your craw, which depends on POV! “alma mater” – implies, perhaps, her parental influencers were her father, in the natural role of father, and also her father, grabbing the natural role of mother, too. No competition allowed.

  12. harpie says:

    In their letter to IVANKA, the J6 Committee helpfully included an enclosure reproducing White House Counsel Don MCGAHN’s 2/22/2017 memo to all personnel about “Presidential Records Act Obligations”. [Link to the letter here: [Emphasis in original.]

    [pdf9/11] McGahn’s 2/22/2017 memo: “Presidential Records Act Obligations”

    […] The same rules apply to other forms of electronic communication, including text messages. You should not use instant messaging systems, social networks, or other internet-based means of electronic communication to conduct official business without the approval of the Office of the White House Counsel. If you ever generate or receive presidential records on such platforms, you must preserve them by sending them to your EOP email account via a screenshot or other means. After preserving the communications, you must delete them from the non-EOP platform. […]

  13. surfer2099 says:

    @Emptywheel, can’t the J6 committee subpoena the deleted tweets from Twitter? Shouldn’t they at least try?

Comments are closed.