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Attorney General will file suit to block sale of Seattle’s National Archives

The National Archives in Seattle. (Feliks Banel, KIRO Radio)

In a move to stop what’s described as the “expedited” sale of the National Archives in Seattle, Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Friday that his office will file suit against the Trump Administration.

The suit comes nearly a year after KIRO Radio broke the news that the building had been targeted for sale by an esoteric federal agency called the Public Buildings Reform Board (PBRB). No stakeholders were consulted by the PBRB, and news of the closure of the facility – which contain federal records for Pacific Northwest states and Alaska – came as a surprise to historians, tribes, academics and others who depend on in-person access to the priceless maps, documents, photos and other archival materials.

Ferguson’s office learned inadvertently that PBRB had decided in October to move forward with an expedited process for the National Archives and several other federal properties. The Attorney General’s office believes that this could mean a sale of the facility as early as January 2021 – less than a month from now – and much sooner than PBRB had originally planned.

On Friday, Ferguson joined Feliks Banel and Aaron Granillo live on Seattle’s Morning News to discuss his plans to file suit in early January to stop the sale of the facility. Listen to the full interview below:

Late Friday, Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who has been working with local stakeholder groups to identify a solution that would keep the archival materials in Washington, provided a statement to KIRO Radio:

Finding a solution – however that is achieved – to keep these important records in Washington, in a facility with proper conditions to protect and preserve them for generations to come, is still the goal. While Attorney General Ferguson pursues legal action, my office will continue working with our congressional delegation, tribes, members of the history and archives communities, and other stakeholders on ideas to preserve access and proximity to these archives. It is also unknown how a new presidential administration could affect the situation.

You can hear Feliks every Wednesday and Friday morning on Seattle’s Morning News and read more from him here. If you have a story idea, please email Feliks here.

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