Former President Donald Trump is facing newfound scrutiny over his handling of classified documents amid reports that his team improperly removed boxes of documents from the White House, destroyed other documents in "burn bags," flushed documents down the toilet, and ripped documents apart which had to later be reassembled.
Given Trump's years-long emphasis on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's handling of retroactively classified emails, for which he called for her imprisonment, these revelations have led some to accuse Trump of hypocrisy, as well as violations of the Presidential Records Act.
According to a Washington Post report on Trump's habit of ripping up documents:
"President Donald Trump tore up briefings and schedules, articles and letters, memos both sensitive and mundane.
He ripped paper into quarters with two big, clean strokes — or occasionally more vigorously, into smaller scraps.
He left the detritus on his desk in the Oval Office, in the trash can of his private West Wing study and on the floor aboard Air Force One, among many other places.
And he did it all in violation of the Presidential Records Act, despite being urged by at least two chiefs of staff and the White House counsel to follow the law on preserving documents."
In a statement, Trump has denied flushing documents and downplayed the seizure of White House documents from his Mar-a-Lago resort, but confirmations of his penchant for tearing up classified documents goes back as far as 2018, at least.
The revelations regarding Trump's handling of documents has given new context to past comments made by then-President Trump regarding the famous moment after his 2020 State of the Union address, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tore up the copy of his speech.
Joining a chorus of conservative media voices, Trump railed against the show of opposition from the Speaker.
"I thought it was a terrible thing when she ripped up the speech. First of all, it's an official document. You're not allowed, it's illegal what she did. She broke the law."
No, Pelosi didn't break the law by ripping up a copy of a speech whose contents were not classified, which had been broadcast to the public just before.
Amid these revelations, the National Archives has asked the Justice Department to investigate Trump's handling of White House Documents. One can only be charged with a crime for destroying government documents if it can be proven the person did so knowing they were in violation of the law.
The Washington Post report notes that Trump was admonished repeatedly by staff for his repeated violations of the Presidential Records Act.
But if that weren't evidence enough that Trump knew destroying documents was illegal, the video of him shaming Pelosi for tearing up his speech likely does.
Others couldn't help but mock him.
The Justice Department hasn't indicated whether it will grant the National Archives' request for an investigation into Trump's preservation of documents.