JUNE 10, 2018
President Trump reportedly has a habit of ripping up pieces of paper, including letters and official documents, that are required by law to be preserved, in what was described as his personal “filing system.”
Former staffers handling records management for the White House told Politico that they were tasked with taping the paper scraps together to ensure that the administration did not violate legal requirements to preserve presidential records.
Solomon Lartey, who was terminated after nearly three decades of government service, told Politico that he and colleagues would use Scotch tape to put the pieces together “like a jigsaw puzzle.”
“It was the craziest thing ever,” Lartey told the news outlet. “He ripped papers into tiny pieces.”
Reginald Young, Jr., another former staffer in the department, told Politico that the task felt 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.”
Both Lartey and Young described the situation to Politico while being interviewed for a story about their abrupt terminations this past spring.
They agreed to speak to Politico about what they believed to be unfair termination, saying that they were forced to sign resignation letters and were not told why they were being fired. The career employees said they were escorted out by Secret Service, and both are still unemployed.
Staffers said that 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. Lartey and Young said that as recently as their departure, staffers were still tasked with taping the pages back together.
Neither the White House nor the official that fired Lartey and Young responded to Politico’s request for comment.