There is an interesting new story about a bizarre practice by President Donald Trump who reportedly rips up material given to him despite the duty to preserve the documents under the Presidential Records Act. Two staffers have recounted how they were required to spend considerable time taping the documents back together to stay in compliance with the PRA. They reportedly complained about the duty for people making $60,000 a year. They were suddenly fired. This Humpy Dumpty duty raises some serious questions of federal violations.
Many years ago, I wrote an academic piece on Presidential Records Act, which called for expanded claims over presidential documents. See Jonathan Turley, Presidential Records and Popular Government: The Convergence of Constitutional and Property Theory in Claims of Control and Ownership of Presidential Records 88 Cornell Law Review 651-732 (2003). The premise of the piece challenged the view of presidents that they own such documents. Obviously, ripping up the documents is the ultimate claim of personal ownership. Staffers called it Trump’s “storage system.”
Many of these documents are treated as historical records under the PRA. They are to be handed over to the National Archives for preservation. If this account is true, there are serious questions of the violation of the federal law — just as deleting emails or other records would constitute such a violation.
Solomon Lartey, 54, worked for 30 years for the government and described the difficult task of putting these documents back together. Reginald Young Jr, a senior records management analyst, also confirmed the bizarre duty. He was also suddenly fired.