Much has been said over the past few weeks about the several thousand documents and presidential records, including around 100 bearing classification markings, that were seized by the FBI from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida.
Very little has been said, however, about the millions of presidential records and documents, including some that are classified, that former President Barack Obama has kept stored for the past several years in an unused former furniture store in Illinois, The Free Press reported.
Nor has there been any FBI raid to retrieve those documents on behalf of the National Archives and Records Administration, nor were there any grand jury subpoenas or Justice Department investigations or threats of indictment and prosecution — as there have been for Trump.
Obama kept and stored his own presidential records
PJ Media reported this week on a letter sent in 2018 from the Obama Foundation to the National Archives that outlined a purported agreement that had been reached in which former President Obama would continue to store his own presidential records, including those that were classified, in the formerly abandoned furniture, known as Hoffman Estates, that admittedly did not meet the standards of the National Archives.
That letter stated in the relevant part, “The Obama Foundation agrees to transfer up to three million three hundred thousand dollars ($3,300,000) to the National Archives Trust Fund (NATF) to support the move of classified and unclassified Obama Presidential records and artifacts from Hoffman Estates to NARA-controlled facilities that conform to the agency’s archival storage standards for such records and artifacts, and for the modification of such spaces.”
To be sure, that letter would seem to suggest that the Obama records, both classified and unclassified, would be moved at some point to a National Archives-approved and compliant facility for safe storage — but that actually isn’t the case, as it turns out.
Obama, National Archives renew lease on building, still storing records there
PJ Media pointed to a report just last month in August from local media outlet Daily Herald which revealed that the Obama Foundation had just extended its lease on the Hoffman Estates building for four more years and seemed to suggest that it was still being used to store Obama’s presidential records.
“While no firm date has been announced for the completion and opening of the Barack Obama Presidential Library near the University of Chicago, its future contents will stay in Hoffman Estates for four more years,” the article stated.
The Herald added that “Village board members unanimously approved an extension to the special-use permit that enables landlord Hoffman Estates Medical Development LLC to lease the 74,200-square-foot former Plunkett Furniture store at 2500 W. Golf Road to the National Archives and Records Administration through Dec. 31, 2026.”
In other words, despite all of the purported outrage over Trump keeping his presidential records in his own highly secured Florida residence — which is guarded by the Secret Service –, there has been no similar outcry about Obama keeping his presidential records in a formerly abandoned furniture store with unknown security measures.
Examples like this are why Americans distrust the government
It is overtly partisan and politicized inconsistencies like these, in which Republicans are held to different standards than Democrats, that is a primary cause of the plummeting confidence many Americans have for our nation’s federal government and institutions.
If, perhaps, Obama and Trump were held to the same standard — either both forced to return all records to the National Archives, or both permitted to maintain storage of their own records — that wouldn’t be a problem and confidence might be somewhat restored … though that seems highly unlikely at this point.