June 22 (UPI) — Governmental watchdog groups Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the National Security Archive have filed a lawsuit against President Trump for allegedly violating the Presidential Records Act.
The PRA requires that a president and his office maintains presidential records for eventual public access. But the watchdog groups suspect Trump has not done so based on his own conflicting statements about whether there are recordings of conversations between himself and former FBI director James Comey.
Under the PRA, presidential records cannot be made public until five years after a president leaves office.
“The American people not only deserve to know how their government is making important decisions, it’s the law,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in a statement. “By deleting these records, the White House is destroying essential historical records.”
On the day the lawsuit was announced, Trump denied having ever made recording of his conversations with Comey.
“With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea…whether there are ‘tapes’ or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings,” Trump tweeted Thursday.
The lawsuit points to a tweet Trump posted on May 12 that suggested he had recordings of his conversations with Comey.
“James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press! ” Trump tweeted shortly after firing the former FBI Director.
The lawsuit also references a May 12 Washington Post article that published a quote from a book written by John O’Donnell, the former president of the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in the 1980’s, who said Trump often recorded his telephone calls.
“Talking on the phone with Donald was a public experience,” O’Donnell wrote in the book, Trumped: The Inside Story of the Real Donald Trump. “You never knew who else was listening.”
This marks the second time CREW has filed a lawsuit against Trump.
In January, the watchdog group sued the president for allegedly violating the Emoluments Clause by claiming he was financially enriching himself through the office of the President.