In a piece published Thursday headlined: “Trump wants a library. He must never have one,” Post art and architecture critic Philip Kennicott stated that while Trump may still be popular in some parts of the country where he can have “airports, bridges and schools” named after him, he “must never have an official presidential library, and Congress should move quickly to make sure he never will.”
Kennicott predicted that Trump’s pursuit of a presidential library will “cause further damage to the country.”
“That is why Congress should use this moment to reconsider the legislation that helped create and shape the presidential libraries now administered by the National Archives, not just to prevent Trump from perpetrating one last, giant grift, but to reform the system so it serves the country better,” Kennicott explained. “This is long overdue, and would need to be done even if Trump weren’t trying to raise $2 billion for a Trump center. But his intention to do so makes this urgent, even an issue of national security.”
The National Archives and Records Administration’s Office of Presidential Libraries administers the libraries of every former president from Herbert Hoover to George W. Bush. In addition to serving as tourist attractions, the libraries serve as repositories for papers, records and other materials belonging to the chief executive.
According to Kennicott, Trump “should be afforded no discretion over his records or any privilege to extend the amount of time before the public can see them.” He then cited Richard Nixon’s efforts to preserve his legacy after he resigned due to the Watergate scandal.
“The danger of Trump using a presidential library to burnish his image is far more serious, with the ex-president and his surrogates still promoting the idea that his electoral loss was somehow fraudulent,” the critic wrote. “That creates an ongoing uncertainty in American public life, which Trump and even more unscrupulous actors will use to further division, inflame tension, exacerbate racism and delegitimize the American democratic system.
“So even a privately funded and operated Trump presidential library, which would be devoted to whitewashing his record and rewriting history, is a terrible and even dangerous idea. Further, given Trump’s alleged misuse of charitable funds, including self-dealing, waste and other illegal activities, at his now dissolved New York-based foundation, any intention to start another public entity can only be considered a crime scene waiting to happen.”
Kennicott went on to write: “The extent to which he and his administration destroyed records and communicated outside of federal systems is unknown, which is why he and his people should be cut out of the process of preserving those documents.
“And Americans should shame anyone — including architecture firms, exhibit designers and corporate donors — who helps Trump perpetuate the lies that nearly destroyed our 244-year-old effort to create a democratically governed republic.”