Washington (AFP) – US President Donald Trump habitually tears up documents he is finished using, forcing White House record-keepers to gather up the pieces and tape them back together, news site Politico reported.
“It was the craziest thing ever. He ripped papers into tiny pieces,” said Solomon Lartey, a former White House records management employee.
The Presidential Records Act requires that any document the president touches — memos, letters, emails — be preserved and sent to the National Archives as part of the historical record.
But Trump’s habit of ripping up documents after he has used them — sometimes just once down the middle, but other times into confetti-like shreds — has created a major headache for the record-keepers in the opening months of his presidency.
Lartey said the entire White House records management department was tasked with reassembling the documents with Scotch tape.
According to Politico, White House staffers had the torn documents collected from the Oval office and the president’s residence and then turned them over to records management to be reassembled “like a jigsaw.”
“You found pieces and taped them back together and then you gave it back to the supervisor,” Lartey said.
He said the documents he worked on included newspaper clippings with Trump’s notes on them, invitations, and letters from constituents or lawmakers.
“I had a letter from Schumer — he tore it up,” he said referring to Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer.
Another former White House records management employee, Reginald Young, said it was the first time in two decades of government service he had been asked to do such a thing.
“I’m looking at my director, and saying, ‘Are you guys serious?’ 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.”
Both Young, 48, and Lartey, 54, were abruptly fired earlier this year without explanation, they said.