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The Danger Of Deliberate Destruction Of Documents By President Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump speaks on lowering prescription drug prices in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC.
US President Donald Trump speaks on lowering prescription drug prices in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC.

The deliberate destruction of knowledge is as old as knowledge itself. It’s often a tactic used by those with power to control those without.

President Donald Trump is known to be keen on controlling the flow of information surrounding himself and his businesses. He reportedly tears up notes or documents from White House meetings. He employs nondisclosure agreements in both his professional and personal life. And White House aides have been known to use apps that delete text messages.

From The New Yorker’s Jill Lepore:

None of this bodes well for the historical record and for the scheduled transfer of materials from the White House to the National Archives, on January 20, 2021. That morning, even as President-elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr., is ascending the steps of the Capitol, staffers from the archives will presumably be in the White House, unlocking doors, opening desks, packing boxes, and removing hard drives. What might be missing, that day, from file drawers and computer servers at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is difficult to say. But records that were never kept, were later destroyed, or are being destroyed right now chronicle the day-to-day doings of one of the most consequential Presidencies in American history and might well include evidence of crimes, violations of the Constitution, and human-rights abuses. It took a very long time to establish rules governing the fate of Presidential records. Trump does not mind breaking rules and, in the course of a long life, has regularly done so with impunity. The Presidential Records Act isn’t easily enforceable. The Trump Presidency nearly destroyed the United States. Will what went on in the darker corners of his White House ever be known?

These practices have experts and analysts wondering: How much of the relevant documentation of Donald Trump’s time in the White House will survive the transition to the Biden administration?

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