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The Weird Law Prosecutors Could Use to Bar Donald Trump From the


During Donald Trump’s chaotic final days as president, senior administration officials were less focused on what things Trump may be walking out the White House doors with, and more concerned that he would just walk out the door.

“You have to remember that many of us just wanted him to leave the building without any more violence occurring,” said a former senior Trump official, who served until Trump’s last day in office. “I remember a rushed and confused packing process in those final weeks, often when the president wasn’t consulted at all.”

The former senior aide said the objective was to leave, “restore any level of calm we could, and, quite frankly, to distract [Trump] with whatever we could think of that would interest him.”

But when Trump was finally consulted on packing, he simply pointed at key artifacts he wanted taken to Mar-a-Lago, two aides recalled, and staff obliged.

It was this frantic packing—combined with Trump’s tendency to take whatever he wants, even if it’s not his property—that eventually led to a bizarre, National Archives-led recovery mission at Trump’s Florida club last month.

It’s far from the twice-impeached former president’s only scandal-plagued run-in with the National Archives. Trump’s habit of tearing up documents and pieces of paper—both confidential and frivolous—has strangely become a focus of the Jan. 6 committee investigation.

Late last month, Archives officials confirmed that some of the materials handed over to House investigators had indeed been “torn up” by the then-president. Some of the papers had to be painstakingly reassembled after they’d been left in absolute tatters by the 45th president of the United States.

But it’s this picayune practice, combined with Trump’s decision to improperly take boxes of documents that should have been turned over to the National Archives, that could, technically, prevent him from ever taking office again. That is, if prosecutors were bold enough to pursue the strange charges that are meant to follow someone willfully concealing, removing, or destroying any presidential records—or even attempting to do so.

Every indication thus far is that they are not.

Trump’s had a long-standing habit of ripping apart papers he’s finished reading them. Well before he was being handed classified information in the West Wing, Trump was tearing up sensitive documents and trivial memos as he presided over his family business empire and hosted The Apprentice.

According to three people familiar with the matter, on the set of his NBC reality TV series, Trump would personally shred production notes, even Post-it Notes, after and between takes, leaving the show’s staff to sweep up or vacuum up the bits and pieces. While on his private plane or working in Trump Tower, he would regularly tear up—and casually toss aside—copies of Trump Organization financial documents, news articles, and print-outs of tweets that were brought to him.

One of the…


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