In June 2018, a former White House staff member doubled down on his allegation that he was part of a team tasked with reassembling documents that had been ripped apart by President Donald Trump in order to avoid breaking the law.
“We started getting these shredded papers, notes and everything,” Solomon Lartey told CNN. “We used to have to piece together all of these torn papers, and we weren’t supposed to tell anybody.”
Lartey, whose employment at the White House was terminated on 23 March 2018, was reportedly part of a group of staffers using tape to put together memos, letters, and news articles that the president had allegedly torn up out of habit. Such a practice could potentially violate the Presidential Records Act of 1978, which requires the preservation of both records and “documentary material,” which is defined as:
All books, correspondence, memoranda, documents, papers, pamphlets, works of art, models, pictures, photographs, plats, maps, films, and motion pictures, including, but not limited to, audio and visual records, or other electronic or mechanical recordations, whether in analog, digital, or any other form.
Lartey and another former staff member, Reginald Young Jr., initially told Politico about their duties while the site was reporting on their respective terminations, which each man — who had been government employees for more than 20 years — felt was unfair.
“We had to endure this under the Trump administration,” Young said. “I’m looking at my director, and saying, ‘Are you guys serious?’ We’re making more than $60,000 a year, we need to be doing far more important things than this. It felt like the lowest form of work you can take on without having to empty the trash cans.”
Among the documents Lartey said he was tasked with reassembling were letters from lawmakers to the president, including one from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York).
“It was the craziest thing ever,” he said. “He ripped papers into tiny pieces.”
We have contacted both the White House and Schumer’s office seeking comment.