Trump says Mar-a-Lago papers were on their way to his library. But his advisors say he rarely brings it up.

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One of the most critical questions about the records that former President Donald Trump kept at his Mar-a-Lago home is why he kept so many government documents and secret information.

So far, the criminal investigation that is now going on hasn’t turned up many answers. In a court filing last week, the Department of Justice said that a lawyer for Trump “did not explain why boxes of government records” were being kept at the former president’s estate. But Trump himself brought up his library, which is something that his advisers say doesn’t come up very often.

At the end of a statement he made on August 22, he hinted that the records taken from Mar-a-Lago would be part of a future “Donald J. The Trump Presidential Library and Museum.” On Friday, the Justice Department gave a more complete list of the documents. It showed that Trump had kept over 10,000 government documents that weren’t marked as secret. Former National Archives and Records Administration officials are surprised that he kept any at all. They say that the materials belong to the U.S. government, no matter what Trump thinks, and that he should have given them back as soon as he left office.

Six current and former advisers say that a library has been little more than an afterthought in Trumpworld. As an ex-president who wants to be president again, Trump didn’t want to give the impression that he was thinking more about his legacy. Some people who knew him well said that putting up a library at this point would be like building a mausoleum in politics: it would show that he was done with running for office.

Trump speaks publicly for first time since Mar-a-Lago search

Advisors say that talks about a library for Trump have come up on and off over the years. One former adviser remembered looking at maps of Florida property during meetings in the small White House dining room near the Oval Office. A longtime Trump adviser said that Trump allies were “scouting locations” in the Palm Beach area, where Mar-a-Lago is. One person close to Trump said it was a joke that the library would be built on the island of Greenland. Which Trump thought about buying in the middle of his term.

Another person close to Trump who talked to him briefly about a library earlier this year said, “He didn’t seem too interested. He wasn’t like, ‘I gotta get my library going.’ He wants to be president again more than anything else.”

One person close to Trump, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity so they could speak more freely, said, “Presidential libraries are for former presidents. He’s a next president. He’ll be back.”

When asked what he thought about plans for a library, a Trump spokesman did not answer. Last week, Trump’s lawyer Chris Kise said in court that there was nothing bad about a former president keeping records from his time in office. He said that rather, the mix of things at Mar-a-Lago “is what you would expect to find in a bunch of boxes that were moved quickly from a house or office.

Former National Archives employees say that if Trump planned to send the records to a future library. He did it the wrong way.

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In former President Barack Obama’s presidential library, for example, the National Archives will loan his speeches and the gifts he got during his two terms. Once his library was up and running, he could have gone to the National Archives and asked to borrow documents he wanted to display, just like other presidents have done. All he had to do was what he was supposed to do in the first place, which is what the Presidential Records Act of 1978 says he should have done: give every presidential record back to the U.S. government when he left office.

Robert Clark, who used to work for the National Archives at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, New York, said that every president should be able to build a library.

“But there’s a way to do it. He can’t just keep the things in his garage until the library is built. Clark said, “That’s not how it works.”

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