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George W. Bush cleared documents for early release

Former President George W. Bush addresses attendees during a immigration naturalization ceremony held at the George W. Bush Presidential Center on July 10, 2013 in Dallas, Texas.
Tom Pennington, Getty Images

Official records from the George W. Bush administration could be released relatively quickly because of a directive the former president signed after leaving office, Politico reports.

Mr. Bush's letter reportedly directs the National Archives to clear nine categories of records for public release, including memos provided to Mr. Bush that were "purely informational or factual in content," talking points on policy decisions, scheduling files and recommendations on whether to sign legislation.

The directive stands in contrast to the 2001 executive order Mr. Bush signed, which gave former presidents more power to prevent the disclosure of their records. Part of that executive order was struck down in 2007, while President Obama revoked the rest of it with his own executive order in 2009.

Freddy Ford, a spokesman for Mr. Bush, told Politico that the former president's office modeled its transparent approach after the example set by former President Bill Clinton. Mr. Bush's records, however, may even be released more quickly than Mr. Clinton's.

Mr. Bush's directive will remain in effect until 2021. Twelve years after the end of a president's term, records must be made public unless the former president asserts his executive privilege to withhold them.

Over the past few weeks, thousands of documents from the Clinton administration were released. The most recent batch showed how the Clinton White House handled challenges the current White House is confronting: how to approach Russian President Vladimir Putin, rebutting conservative conspiracy theories and concerns about the political impact of health care reform.