Donald Trump denied flushing documents down a toilet in the White House following claims in a new book that the toilet would frequently be clogged with ripped-up papers.
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‘Also, another fake story, that I flushed papers and documents down a White House toilet, is categorically untrue and simply made up by a reporter in order to get publicity for a mostly fictitious book,’ Trump wrote in a Thursday statement.
Earlier this month, National Archives officials discovered 15 boxes of White House materials at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate – seemingly in violation of federal records laws – and it was reported that the former president ripped official documents and sent others to the Pentagon for incineration.
In response, Trump said that the boxes were donated to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) ‘openly and willingly’.
A congressional committee opened an investigation into Trump’s improper removal or destruction of White House documents in response to the seizure of the materials.
‘Removing or concealing government records is a criminal offense punishable by up to three years in prison,’ the committee letter to NARA Archivist David Ferriero threatens.
Trump brushed off the probe, stating: ‘The media’s characterization of my relationship with NARA is Fake News. It was exactly the opposite! It was a great honor to work with NARA to help formally preserve the Trump Legacy.’
‘I have been told I was under no obligation to give this material based on various legal rulings that have been made over the years.
‘Crooked Hillary Clinton, as an example, deleted and acid washed 32,000 emails and never gave that to the government. Then, they took large amounts of furniture out of the White House. And Bill Clinton kept numerous audio recordings that the archives wanted, but were unsuccessful at getting after going to court. We won’t even mention what is going on with the White House in the current, or various past administrations.’
In her new book Confidence Man, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman claims that White House staff discovered wads of paper overflowing a toilet and believed Trump was the culprit, Axios reports.
As a result, the National Archives and Records Administration has asked the Justice Department to investigate the removal of White House records by former President Obama as he left office, potentially exposing Trump to new legal risks.
An accusation of violating the Presidential Records Act against a former president would be new territory, and Trump has already escaped two impeachment proceedings while fighting off investigations of his Manhattan business and fighting a Georgia election probe.
Trump’s penchant for tossing out documents while in office was also revealed by the House January 6th Committee investigation, which recently received White House records.
Archivists are required to tape documents together to preserve material that, by law, belongs to the U.S. government and not the president who created it or received it.
Carolyn Maloney, the chair of the House Oversight panel, is asking NARA for a clarification of what was in the 15 boxes it seized at Mar-a-Lago from Trump.
‘Please provide a detailed description of the contents of the recovered boxes,’ demands the letter.
The Democrat-penned letter continued: ‘Is NARA aware of presidential records that President Trump destroyed or attempted to destroy without the approval of NARA?’
‘If so, please provide a detailed description of such records, the actions taken by President Trump to destroy or attempt to destroy them, and any actions NARA has taken to recover or preserve these documents.’
According to Trump, the exchange with NARA was ‘collaborative and respectful’ as the documents and materials were recovered.
‘[T]he National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) openly and willingly arranged with President Trump for the transport of boxes that contained letters, records, newspapers, magazines, and various articles,’ Trump said.
‘Some of this information will someday be displayed in the Donald J. Trump Presidential Library for the public to view my Administration’s incredible accomplishments for the American People.’
Trump also slammed news reports over their coverage:
‘The media’s characterization of my relationship with NARA is Fake News. It was exactly the opposite! It was a great honor to work with NARA to help formally preserve the Trump Legacy.’
On Tuesday, Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington and the National Security Archive called for the DOJ to investigate Trump’s destruction of government documents, saying the president had probably violated criminal laws.
‘Donald Trump’s repeated and apparently willful destruction of his presidential records threatens to deny the American people a full historical record of his presidency and an opportunity to hold him and his administration fully accountable for their actions while in power,’ said Noah Bookbinder, the president of Citizens for Responsible Ethics. ‘There is no excuse for hiding important information from the public. The Department of Justice must act to investigate and to hold Trump accountable for his reckless behavior ‘
The National Archives recovered from Mar-a-Lago the hurricane map that then-President Trump allegedly wrote on with a Sharpie pen.
Trump had a mini replica of Air Force One on display in the Oval Office, which has also been removed. He was involved in every detail of the remodel, including the paint job.
At Mar-a-Lago, Trump displayed a ‘mini replica of one of the black border-wall slats’ that he helped design for the border wall, according to a former aide.
Aides to Trump continue to seek out government-owned material.
Also, Trump said a presidential library bearing his name will house some of the items.
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‘Much of this material will someday be displayed in the Donald J. Trump Presidential Library for the public to view my Administration’s incredible accomplishments for the American People.’
‘Former President Trump’s representatives have informed NARA that they are continuing to search for additional Presidential records that belong to the National Archives,’ a Monday statement by NARA read.
Some of the items NARA took include Trump’s ‘love letters’ with North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.
Additionally, NARA took original copies of the letter former President Obama left for Trump in the top drawer of the Resolute Desk in which he said: ‘We are just temporary occupants of this office. That makes us guardians of those democratic institutions and traditions – like rule of law, separation of powers, equal protection and civil liberties.’