Washington — Some of the documents from former President Donald Trump's White House that were turned over to the National Archives and Records Administration were torn up by the former president and had been pieced back together, the agency said.
The Archives confirmed in a statement Trump's habit of tearing up records, citing press reports from 2018 that detailed his practice. The Archives said "White House records management officials during the Trump Administration recovered and taped together some of the torn-up records. These were turned over to the National Archives at the end of the Trump Administration, along with a number of torn-up records that had not been reconstructed by the White House."
Politico reported in 2018 that the former president's unofficial "filing system" consisted of him ripping up papers and throwing them on the floor or in the trash, which led to the arduous process of taping documents back together to ensure compliance with the Presidential Records Act. The law requires memos, letters, emails and other documents be preserved and given to the Archives at the end of an administration.
The statement from the Archives came after CNN and the Washington Post reported that some of the documents from the Trump White House that the Archives handed over to the House select committee investigating the January 6 assault had been torn up and then reassembled.
House investigators received more than 700 pages of documents from the Archives late last month after Trump lost a court battle with the committee to shield their release. The select committee had requested from the Archives reams of records surrounding the events of January 6, including presidential diaries, visitor logs, handwritten notes from then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, binders from then-White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and a draft executive order on election integrity.
While Trump asserted executive privilege over the records in an attempt to block their release, President Biden declined to uphold his privilege claims. The former president sued the committee and Archives in October to block the disclosure of the records, and the case wound up before the Supreme Court, whichof the tranche to the House.
Among the documentswas a draft executive order, published by several news outlets, given to Trump that would have directed the Defense Department to seize voting machines during the 2020 presidential election. Dated December 16, 2020, the order was never issued and it's unclear who authored the document.
Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi,last month investigators "have information that between the Department of Justice, a plan was put forward to potentially seize voting machines in the country and utilize Department of Defense assets to make that happen."
Thompson said public hearings by the panel are expected to begin in the spring.
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