Though Trump had a reputation for avoiding briefings and flushing meeting notes, he would ask officials for documents: 'Can I keep this?'
- As president, Donald Trump had a reputation for being difficult to brief and destroying meeting notes.
- At times, he would ask officials if he could keep documents he received, according to members of his staff.
During his presidency, Donald Trump developed a reputation for being difficult to brief and may have destroyed meeting notes by flushing them down the toilet but would ask officials to keep documents he received, according to members of his staff.
Trump's reluctance to sit for the Presidential Daily Briefing while in office was well documented. His first briefer, Ted Gistaro, told CBS News the former president "doesn't really read anything," while intelligence officers described him as "far and away the most difficult" new president to brief. The daily briefing was more often delivered to Vice President Mike Pence than the president, The Guardian reported.
Hoping to encourage the president to read more of his briefings, Gistaro's successor, Beth Sanner, included a one-page outline and a set of graphics, former CIA officer John Helgerson recounted in his book, "Getting to Know the President."
When he did attend meetings, former President Trump is rumored to have destroyed records, including by flushing written notes down the White House toilets. He also had a habit of ripping and shredding documents, The Washington Post reported. The shredding was so prolific, Politico reported, that an entire team was dedicated to taping documents back together for preservation.
"I have seen Trump tear up papers, not into small, small pieces, but usually twice — so take a piece of paper, rip it once, and then rip it again and then throw it into the garbage pail," The Washington Post reported Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal lawyer, said.
In addition to his habit of destroying meeting notes, several staff members noted that Trump would ask officials if he could keep documents he received.
"From time to time, the president would say 'Can I keep this?'" Trump's former Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, told CNN's Erin Burnett on Friday. Mulvaney added the White House had "entire teams" of people dedicated to preserving official documents.
Though Mulvaney would not draw a direct line between Trump's habit of asking to keep records and the search of his Mar-a-Lago residence in pursuit of classified documents, his comments echoed those of John Bolton, Trump's one-time national security advisor.
"Often the president would say [to intelligence briefers] 'Well, can I keep this?'" Bolton told CBS News. "And in my experience, the intelligence briefers most often would say 'Well, sir, we'd prefer to take that back,' but sometimes they forgot."
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