- Trump denied Maggie Haberman’s report that he would clog toilets by trying to flush documents.
- He said he was “told I was under no obligation” to turn over records, despite legal requirements.
- There are at least four ways in which Trump is accused of trying to destroy documents.
Former President Donald Trump on Thursday denied a claim that he flushed documents down a White House toilet and said he was told he was under “no obligation” to turn over his administration’s records, which flies in the face of presidential-records law.
“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 said in a statement released by his Save America PAC after Axios reported on excerpts of the New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman’s upcoming book, “Confidence Man.”
Jennifer Jacobs, a Bloomberg White House reporter, said Haberman’s reporting about the documents in toilets was “100% accurate” and that sources at the time confirmed staff found torn up pieces of papers in toilets and thought that Trump was behind it.
Trump has faced days of questions and reports over his apparent flouting of the Presidential Records Act, which requires every White House to preserve memos, documents, and other memorabilia considered the property of the American people.
“In actuality, 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,” Trump said in his statement.
The National Archives and Records Administration, which collects, sorts through, and later releases presidential records, has asked the Justice Department to investigate whether Trump broke the law when he took documents to Mar-a-Lago, The Washington Post reported. In another sign of the seriousness of the situation, The Times reported that officials found what could be classified information in the documents Trump handed over belatedly.
There are now at least four ways in which Trump is accused of trying to destroy documents while in the White House:
- He ripped them up, Politico reported in 2018.
- He ate them, Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former White House advisor, writes in her 2018 memoir.
- He dropped them on the floor, the National Archives said.
- He flushed them down the toilet, Haberman’s book says.
According to Axios, Haberman’s book says White House staffers sometimes found toilets clogged with printed paper. She adds that they thought Trump was the culprit.
Historians and experts have pointed out that the Presidential Records Act is relatively toothless in punishing those who fail to comply with it. But The Daily Beast reported one federal law dealing with the mutilation or destruction of documents carried the possibility of Trump being barred from ever holding office again.