President Donald Trump has an unusual habit. Every time he reads a document or a letter, he rips up the paperwork — including the ones that were to be preserved for presidential records.
Former White House staffers, who spoke to Politico, said that they were tasked with taping the paper scraps back together to ensure that the administration did not violate legal requirements.
Solomon Lartey and Reginald Young, Jr. were two such staffers who dealt with this kind of job. Their daily task involved putting together several pieces of torn or shredded paper using a Scotch tape.
Lartey, who was terminated after nearly three decades of government service, likened the menial task to a “jigsaw puzzle.”
“It was the craziest thing ever. Trump ripped the papers into tiny pieces,” he told Politico.
Lartey, who earned an annual salary of $65,969 as a records management analyst, spent the first five months of the Trump administration working in the Old Executive Office Building, standing over a desk with scraps of paper spread out in front of him.
Young, on the other hand, felt that the task was well beneath his salary.
“I’m looking at my director, and saying, ‘Are you guys serious?'” he said. “We’re making more than $60,000 a year, we need to be doing far more important things than this. It felt like the lowest form of work you can take on without having to empty the trash cans.”
Under former President Obama, records were carefully preserved and sent to the National Archives in accordance with the Presidential Records Act. The policy requires that all memos, letters, documents, and papers touched by the president be kept as historical records in the National Archives.
Another unnamed sourced told Politico that Trump would tear up “anything that happened to be on his desk that he was done with,” and that aides were unable to prompt the president to break his habit.
White House staffers have had to tape back together "like a jigsaw puzzle" presidential records that President Trump rips up in order to stay in line with the Presidential Records Act, Politico reports https://t.co/3bgpYMQUMj— CNN (@CNN) June 11, 2018
Neither the White House, nor the official that fired Lartey and Young responded to Politico’s request for comment.
Both Lartey and Young were terminated by the White House this past spring. No reason was given for their termination. The career employees were escorted out by Secret Service. They are both still unemployed.
The former staffers said that as recently as their departure, employees were still tasked with taping the pages back together.