President Donald Trump signs a document on February 18, 2020, in Beverly Hills, California.
Evan Vucci/AP Photo
Trump-era White House staffers frequently put documents in “burn bags,” per The Washington Post.
Regular “burn runs” would see these bags taken to the Pentagon for incineration, The Post said.
It was up to the staffers to decide which documents to preserve and which to destroy, the media outlet reported.
It has been widely reported that former President Donald Trump had a penchant for tearing apart presidential documents, but new details have emerged about how his aides disposed of potentially important papers.
According to The Washington Post, staffers frequently put documents into “burn bags” to be incinerated at the Pentagon.
Burn bags resemble paper grocery bags and are widely available throughout the White House complex. Organizations dealing with top-secret information, like the CIA and NSA, often use them because destruction via burn bags is considered superior to shredding.
A typical burn bag used by the United States Department of Defense.
Sturmovik, Wikimedia Commons
There are two types of “burn bags,” one for classified and the other for unclassified material, but both are ultimately destroyed, per The Post.
The media outlet reported that, in Trump’s White House, there were regular “burn runs” in which the classified bags were transported to the Pentagon for incineration.
A senior Trump White House official told The Post that he and other staffers regularly put documents into “burn bags” to be incinerated, and, he said, it was up to them which would be destroyed.
Meanwhile, records personnel would attempt to manage the volume of torn documents being consigned to burn bags. They would tip the contents onto a table to puzzle out which documents needed to be taped back together and preserved, a former official told The Washington Post.
Problems with record preservation in the Trump administration are well-documented. Insider reported that the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack received Trump-era White House documents that had been torn up and taped back together by staff assigned to jigsaw them back together.
Historians raised concerns during his tenure that his presidential records would be poorly preserved or destroyed entirely – potentially violating the Presidential Records Act.
“The biggest takeaway I have from that behavior is it reflects a conviction that he was above the law,” said presidential historian Lindsay Chervinsky, told The Washington Post. “He did not see himself bound by those things.”
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