Abstract

ABSTRACT:

The Presidential Records Act (PRA) of 1978 established public ownership over records created by the executive branch to ensure permanent preservation of historically valuable materials. The law resulted from an unprecedented constitutional and political crisis spurred by the Nixon administration’s assertion of executive privilege during the Watergate investigations, a series of events that finds many similarities in the current Trump administration’s efforts to control records and information it produces. This article examines the politicization of presidential records in the intervening decades, particularly the problematic relationship between the PRA, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and executive privilege in shaping the historical record.

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