The source said the Archives is seeking a review of whether Trump violated the Presidential Records Act, which requires that all records created by presidents be turned over to the National Archives at the end of their administrations, and other possible violations, including the handling of classified information.
It is not clear if the Justice Department will launch a formal investigation, as a vast majority of referrals to the department do not end up sparking a formal investigation. The Justice Department declined to comment.
A person familiar with the matter previously told CNN that Archives general counsel Gary Stern contacted Trump’s team last fall to inquire about several boxes of records that appeared to have been taken to Mar-a-Lago during Trump’s relocation to Florida.
These were boxes that had been in the White House residence and thus had been packed up with other personal belongings of the first family, this person said.
The Archives, in response to questions from CNN, said that “some of the Trump presidential records received by the National Archives and Records Administration included paper records that had been torn up by former President Trump.”
The agency did not explain how officials know Trump himself ripped up the records, but the Archives pointed to previous reporting that White House records management staff had to tape together torn-up documents during the Trump era.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated which entity could launch a formal investigation. This story has also been updated with additional reporting.
National Archives seeks Justice Department investigation of Trump’s handling of White House documents