(WASHINGTON) — The National Archives has asked the Justice Department to investigate former President Donald Trump’s handling of White House records, a person familiar with the matter confirmed to ABC News on Wednesday.

The request follows recent reporting around Trump’s handling of documents following his departure from the White House last year, including earlier this week when the Archives confirmed it recently retrieved 15 boxes of records from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida that were improperly taken in violation of the Presidential Records Act.

The news was first reported by The Washington Post.

A source confirmed to ABC News that discussions in the department around the Archives’ referral are in the very early stages, and it is not clear whether DOJ would open a formal investigation into the matter.

Legal experts reached by ABC News earlier this week expressed skepticism that the department would take the unusual step of seeking criminal charges against a former president for violating the Presidential Records Act.

A DOJ spokesperson declined to comment on the referral. The National Archives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A spokesperson for Trump provided the following response to ABC News in response to an inquiry on the Archives’ referral:

“Following collaborative and respectful discussions, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) arranged for the transport of boxes that contained Presidential Records in compliance with the Presidential Records Act. Much of this material will someday be displayed in the Donald J. Trump Presidential Library for the public to view my Administration’s incredible accomplishments for the American People.

“The media’s characterization of my relationship with NARA is Fake News. It was exactly the opposite! It was a great honor to work with NARA to help formally preserve the Trump Legacy.”

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