Trump’s Illegal Document Shredding May Haunt Him in January 6 Investigation

The National Archives confirmed last week what The Washington PostIn a classic understatement, it is called “Labeled”. Donald Trump’s “unusual” habit of ripping up official government documents.

Time and again, sensitive documents that were legally required to remain intact were torn into small pieces and thrown to White House floors. These childish displays were a result of ignorance and/or petulance. Trump’s staffers had to perform the absurd and degrading job of sweeping up and storing the piecesTo keep the most powerful man in the world out of further legal trouble, it was decided to destroy and make disappear government documents, which is a crime under the Presidential Records Act. Once the gophers had saved the fragments, low-paid civil servants were given the unenviable task of scotchtaping them back together.

At first glance, there is something humorous about this image, something of the childish, drunken, rules-flouting ne’er-do-well billionaire in the 1981 movie Arthur. But Dudley Moore’s character in that movie was, ultimately, loveable — and redeemable. Think about Trump’s actions for a New York minute, and there’s precious little loveable about them, nor is there anything visibly redeemable in Trump’s snarling, vindictive personality. It seems that Trump’s deep-rooted humiliation instinct is playing out here. These are the actions of a man who doesn’t care about wasting his underlings’ time; doesn’t worry about the messes that he makes and the fact that other people inevitably have to clean those messes up; doesn’t pause to consider how other people feel when they step in to protect his rear-end from the trouble that he routinely, almost deliberately, gets himself into.

As president Lyndon Johnson would frequently hold discussions with underlings while on the toilet, or after a shower. He did this apparently to show, in the most crude manner possible, who was boss. Trump’s paper-shredding frenzies, and his subordinates’ back-bending labors to rectify the damage, fit the same unpleasant “I’m the big shot around here” mold.

They are also uniquely hypocritical given that Donald Trump pummeled Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election campaign for her use of her personal email address to conduct some official government business while she was serving as President Obama’s secretary of state. In the run-up to the election, the Republican candidate said that Clinton’s email scandal was so serious that electing her would produce a “constitutional crisis.”He called for an investigation into President ObamaHe claimed that he was responsible for the Clinton email scandal. In his attempt to use the issue to rouse fevered crowds he claimed that the email scandal was a scandal “bigger than Watergate.”

In 2016, Trump’s supporters responded in kind.

Remember those horrible campaign rallies when thousands of MAGA supporters would chant “Lock her up”Before they moved on to more bloody calls for Clinton and members of her inner circle to be executed for treason. Even four years later and deep into his reelection campaign is a brooding Trump, seeking to rally his supporters in the final days of the election campaign against Biden, told a gathering in Florida that he did, indeed, “100 percent” favor locking up his erstwhile rival.

It was, of course a charade and an exercise in manufactured outrage. Trump didn’t give two hoots about communications security or about the preservation of records. Trump, his daughter, and himself were both very concerned about communications security throughout his presidency. IvankaAnd son-in law Jared Kushner,All of them routinely mishandled official government documents. Ivanka and Jared did exactly what Clinton was accused of doing — they used personal email accounts to carry out government business. Trump’s White House chief of staff, Mark MeadowsTo conduct White House business, he used a number of personal email addresses. Several other senior staffSimilar actions were also reported to the police. And Trump, when he wasn’t using an unsecured personal cell phone to tweetHe was making threats against his enemies by ripping government documents into pieces.

This behavior was written about early in Trump’s bizarro presidency. What wasn’t known until the National Archive revelations was the scale of the mishandling of official records.

Trump has lost his legal battles to withhold documents of the House committee investigating January 6th insurrection. a treasure trove of documents has been handed over to the committee. Many of them come from the National Archives and Records Administration. Some others are from at most 15 boxes of government documents that Trump illicitly absconded with when he left the White Housefor his cantankerous pseudo-retirement at Mar-a-Lago. Apparently, a large number of these papers were taped together after being subject to carnage by Trump.

Trump tore up a lot of papers, including articles he had written in gossipy Sharpie notes, letters, and print-outs from websites that he had visited. These papers could be considered everyday trash that can be thrown away without a second thought. But others were more consequential — policy memos, drafts of executive orders, and so on. This is, afterall, a president whose minions drafted executive orders, which Trump ultimately didn’t sign, to use the military to seize voting machines after he lost the November 2020 election.This president also put unprecedented pressure on Mike Pence to somehow succeed. “overturn” the election and refuse to allow Congress to certify Biden’s victory. Some of the papers Trump brought down to Florida were apparently his. classified documents.

The House committee investigating January 6 Capitol breaches is slowly but surely uncovering all of this disregard for governance structures and rules. Come the spring, that committee will almost certainly start holding public hearings. Trump’s taped-together papers will be paraded before the public. The shredder in chief should also be present. He ought to be subpoenaed to testify — both on his role in promoting what was, in essence, an attempted coup against the republic, and also his behavior in shredding, or absconding with, documents that, by law, belonged in the National Archives.

The first question he should be asked is: “Can you think of a good reason, Mr. ex-President, that the person who, in 2016, called for Hillary Clinton to be locked up for using a personal email account, shouldn’t himself be tried for deliberately mishandling official government documents?”