It’s an expression of the most deeply rooted of our patriotic American values — allegiance to the republic and the system of self-governance that has guided us for 244 years.
With the protections afforded by Presidential immunity ending in a matter of weeks, some officials may be tempted to cover the tracks of this administration and destroy evidence of wrongdoing.
We cannot allow that to happen.
This is crucial to our democracy and a peaceful transition of power. Both laws serve and protect the American people — the ones to which those documents belong. Anyone who violates those laws can be subject to criminal penalties or action from the next US attorney general.
But these represent only the “known unknowns.” The PRA and FRA require preservation of all records, not just those that Congress is aware of. Given the pattern of behavior by Trump and his senior officials, we must remain vigilant to ensure all laws are followed, and all documents are preserved during this transition.
And here we would like to address the employees of federal agencies who have been forced to bear silent witness to malfeasance over the past four years: We thank you for your service. We have your back.
Trump will be President until January 20, and until then, he is entitled to exercise all the lawful powers of his office to faithfully execute our laws and “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” for the common good. But if you are asked to do something that you believe may violate the law, please seek legal counsel before complying, and notify your agency inspector general.
As members of Congress, we will be proactive during this transition, staying in regular touch with inspectors general and record-keeping officials.
In the winter of 1776, Thomas Paine wrote of those who stood up for our country that they “deserve the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”
To the American people who did not support Donald Trump and did not give up, who marched, who organized, who voted: Our republic still stands because of you. You have earned our “love and thanks” many times over. We cannot always count on elected officials to uphold their oath to protect our Constitution. But we take comfort from the knowledge that we can always count on you. Remain vigilant. We know you will.