Republican National Committee employees have been asked to preserve all documents related to last year’s presidential campaign — a step that RNC lawyers describe as precautionary, but necessary, as investigations continue into Russia’s meddling in the election.
“Given the important role that the RNC plays in national elections and the potentially expansive scope of the inquiries and investigations, it is possible that we will be contacted with requests for information,” reads a July 28 memo to staff from the RNC Counsel’s Office.
"Therefore, we must preserve all documents potentially relevant to these matters until they are resolved or until we are informed by all necessary parties that preservation is no longer necessary."
BuzzFeed News obtained a copy of the memo, which orders employees not to “delete, destroy, modify, or remove from your paper files, laptop computer, desktop computer, tablet, mobile device, e-mail, or any storage system or device, any documents, records, or other materials that relate to the 2016 presidential election or that may relate to any investigation concerning the election.” An RNC source confirmed the memo’s authenticity Monday morning.
According to the memo, the RNC “has not been contacted regarding any of the ongoing investigations, and there is no specific reason to believe we will be. Nonetheless, we have an obligation to keep potentially relevant documents. This is standard procedure for any organization that may be in a position to provide helpful or otherwise relevant information to litigants or investigators. Serious consequences will result for anyone who fails to comply with this obligation.”
The memo is the latest sign of the legal concerns gripping Washington as special counsel Robert Mueller and Congress probe Russian government efforts to influence the election.
The RNC worked closely with the Trump campaign on data analytics and ground game. Its chairman last cycle was Reince Priebus, who went to the White House as Trump’s first chief of staff before being ousted last week.
“It is important to note that we are not aware of any suggestion whatsoever of improper or illegal activity by the RNC or any of its employees or officers,” the memo states. “In fact, as far as we are aware, the only potential connection the RNC has to any of the matters currently under investigation is as a victim of unsuccessful hacking attempts.”
The RNC is not the first Trump-aligned organization to take such precautions. Officials with Trump’s transition team were ordered last month to preserve documents related to Russia.
Henry Gomez is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Cleveland, Ohio.
Contact Henry J. Gomez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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