The New York Times Opinion – Matthew Connelly – professor of history at Columbia.- “…In 2017, a normally routine document released by the archives, a records retention schedule, revealed that archivists had agreed that officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement could delete or destroy documents detailing the sexual abuse and death of undocumented immigrants. Tens of thousands of people posted critical comments, and dozens of senators and representatives objected. The National Archives made some changes to the plan, but last month it announced that ICE could go ahead and start destroying records from Mr. Trump’s first year, including detainees’ complaints about civil rights violations and shoddy medical care. It’s not just ICE. The Department of the Interior and the National Archives have decided to delete files on endangered species, offshore drilling inspections and the safety of drinking water. The department even claimed that papers from a case where it mismanaged Native American land and assets — resulting in a multibillion-dollar legal settlement — would be of no interest to future historians (or anyone else). Virtually all the papers of the under secretary of state for economic growth, energy and environment are also being designated as “temporary,” despite the incredibly broad responsibilities of that office — from international aviation safety to foreign takeovers of American firms.
It is hard to know why the government is not even holding on to records about antidumping efforts, or the protection of intellectual property, which fall under the new temporary status. It is perhaps easier to understand why the Trump administration wants to delete other records from the under secretary’s office, including documents regarding the enforcement (or non-enforcement) of “health, safety and environmental laws and regulations.” All this is good news for anyone interested in evading economic sanctions, buying American strategic assets, selling us shoddy goods, stealing our intellectual property or violating aviation safety regulations. Now, even the court of history will be closed…”