Fact Check: Barack Obama Did NOT Take 30 Million Documents From The White House To Chicago And Then Refuse To Return Them

Fact Check

  • by: Alan Duke

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.

Fact Check: Barack Obama Did NOT Take 30 Million Documents From The White House To Chicago And Then Refuse To Return Them Docs Not Taken

Did former President Barack Obama take 30 million pages of documents, including some secret nuclear papers, from the White House to Chicago when he left the presidency and then refuse to return them? No, that's not true: The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) did ship 30 million pages of documents to a secure NARA facility in Chicago, but they are all unclassified and under the control of NARA and not the former president, according to a statement provided to Lead Stories by NARA.

The claim originated in a post published by former President Donald Trump on his Truth Social platform on August 11, 2022 (archived here), which read:

What happened to the 30 million pages of documents taken from the White House to Chicago by Barack Hussein Obama? He refused to give them back! What is going on? This act was strongly at odds with NARA. Will they be breaking into Obama's 'mansion' in Martha's Vineyard

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:


(Source: TruthSocial.com screenshot taken Fri Aug 12 at 20:00:00 2022 UTC)

Trump also posted a claim that Obama took "lots" of documents that "pertained to nuclear." He wrote:

President Barack Hussein Obama kept 33 million pages of documents, much of them classified. How many of them pertained to nuclear? Word is, lots!

Trump's claims followed revelations that the FBI searched his Mar-a-Lago, Florida, home for top secret documents relating to U.S. nuclear secrets on August 8, 2022.

The unsealed search warrant and property receipt for the FBI search can be read here.

NARA, which controls all presidential archives, quickly responded to Trump's claims by pointing out that while documents were shipped to Chicago from Washington, D.C., after the end of the Obama presidency, it was done in accordance with federal law. None of the papers were classified and the former president did not control them:

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) assumed exclusive legal and physical custody of Obama Presidential records when President Barack Obama left office in 2017, in accordance with the Presidential Records Act (PRA). NARA moved approximately 30 million pages of unclassified records to a NARA facility in the Chicago area, where they are maintained exclusively by NARA. Additionally, NARA maintains the classified Obama Presidential records in a NARA facility in the Washington, DC, area. As required by the PRA, former President Obama has no control over where and how NARA stores the Presidential records of his Administration.


  • 2022-08-12T20:19:00Z 2022-08-12T20:19:00Z
    Adds search warrant and property receipt for FBI search of Mar-a-Lago.

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  Alan Duke

Editor-in-Chief Alan Duke co-founded Lead Stories after ending a 26-year career with CNN, where he mainly covered entertainment, current affairs and politics. Duke closely covered domestic terrorism cases for CNN, including the Oklahoma City federal building bombing, the UNABOMBER and search for Southeast bomber Eric Robert Rudolph. CNN moved Duke to Los Angeles in 2009 to cover the entertainment beat. Duke also co-hosted a daily podcast with former HLN host Nancy Grace, "Crime Stories with Nancy Grace" and hosted the podcast series "Stan Lee's World: His Real Life Battle with Heroes & Villains." You'll also see Duke in many news documentaries, including on the Reelz channel, CNN and HLN.

Read more about or contact Alan Duke

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