• Trump staffers collected the torn documents in his wake
  • People working at the Office of Records Management used clear tape to put the records back together
  • Trump's habit of tearing up documents seemingly violates the Presidential Records Act

Former President Donald Trump had a habit of ripping and throwing briefings, documents and reading materials when he was still in the White House, leaving his staffers to retrieve the piles of torn paper in his wake.

Aides from either the Office of the Staff Secretary or the Oval Office Operations team occasionally went into Trump’s office after he left to collect pieces of the documents he tore up. Most times, he ripped the documents into quarters with two big strokes. However, there were occasions when he tore up the paper into smaller pieces.

All paper scraps collected would then be sent to the White House Office of Records Management where staffers used clear tape to put the document back together, 11 former Trump staff members and associates familiar with the former president’s habit told The Washington Post.

Manigault Newman, a former White House chief of staff turned vocal Trump critic, also described the ex-president’s habit of destroying important documents in her 2018 book “Unhinged: An Insider's Account of the Trump White House.”

"His habit of tearing these things up ... my heart truly goes out to the people responsible for going in the trash bins [and] recovering these things," Newman said, adding that she once saw Trump chewing up a piece of paper after his meeting with his attorney Michael Cohen.

Trump kept up the habit throughout his presidency even when at least two chiefs of staff and White House counsel urged him to preserve the documents to abide by the Presidential Records Act.

"It went in one ear and out the other. There was no appreciation for the standard preservation process or concerns about violating it," a former White House official told CNN.

The Presidential Records Act requires the White House to preserve all documents and written communication related to the president’s official duties. This may include articles, briefings, emails, faxes, memos and notes, among others. The documents would then be turned over to the National Archives.

While the White House can decide which records to dispose of, they may only do so after obtaining the assent of records officials.

It is unclear how many documents and records were lost or permanently destroyed throughout Trump’s presidency. It is also unclear if he would face consequences for seemingly violating the Presidential Records Act.

Former US president Donald Trump continues to spread disinformation about the 2020 election
Former US president Donald Trump continues to spread disinformation about the 2020 election AFP / Robyn Beck