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CNN anchor demonstrates Trump's paper habit

CNN's Brooke Baldwin speaks to the Politico reporter who broke the story that President Donald Trump has a habit of tearing up memos, notes, letters, and negative news articles he doesn't like.

Posted: Jun 12, 2018 11:43 AM
Updated: Jun 12, 2018 11:45 AM

This, from Politico's Annie Karni, is stunning:

"Under the Presidential Records Act, the White House must preserve all memos, letters, emails and papers that the president touches, sending them to the National Archives for safekeeping as historical records.

"But White House aides realized early on that they were unable to stop Trump from ripping up paper after he was done with it and throwing it in the trash or on the floor, according to people familiar with the practice. Instead, they chose to clean it up for him, in order to make sure that the president wasn't violating the law."

Karni's piece details the work of a small group of White House aides to reassemble documents, memos, printed-out stories and the like that Trump rips to shreds -- literally -- day in and day out.

This is no small thing. After all, as Karni notes, all papers that the President touches have to be preserved. They are history.

That Trump doesn't know that -- or, even worse, knows it and doesn't care -- speaks volumes about something we already know from his first 16 months in office: He fundamentally misunderstands the office of president.

Being president is, at root, a sort of public trust. Yes, you live in the White House and you work in the Oval office. But you aren't the owner of the building; you are a temporary resident. Your time in the office is constitutionally limited -- no matter what you do, you won't ever be president for more than eight years.

Federalist Paper #57 gets at this idea nicely:

"The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society; and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous whilst they continue to hold their public trust. The elective mode of obtaining rulers is the characteristic policy of republican government. The means relied on in this form of government for preventing their degeneracy are numerous and various. The most effectual one, is such a limitation of the term of appointments as will maintain a proper responsibility to the people."

Most past modern presidents have understood this idea innately: Yes, they were elected with a certain set of ideas and ideology to hold the highest office in the country. But their most important responsibility isn't to their party or any single individual or idea. It is to the American public and, in the broadest sense, to the perpetuation of the democratic principles on which this country was built.

Notice I said "most" past presidents. Because the Presidential Records Act, which was passed in 1978, came in response to the Watergate scandal, during which then President Richard Nixon repeatedly violated the public trust in pursuit of his own personal and political interests.

What the Presidential Records Act did, most consequentially, is make clear that any and all papers that passed through a president's hand were owned by the public, not the president. Those documents were required to be preserved in the public interest. (This is a good study on the impact of the Presidential Records Act on the presidency.)

Trump has never seen the presidency through the lens of a public trust. That sort of stuff is for the politicians who came before him -- the same ones who screwed everything up by playing by the rules, in his mind. Trump simply doesn't feel constrained by that kind of thinking. If he wants to rip up a letter from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, he rips it up. (Yes, this reportedly really happened.)

(Side note: That there is no one within the White House willing and able to tell Trump he simply can't do that is telling in and of itself.)

What Trump doesn't understand is that being president isn't the same thing as being the head of a private company. In that latter role, he is largely free to set the rules -- and obey or not obey them -- as he wishes. It's his company, he can do, largely, what he wants.

The presidency is not that. It's not Donald Trump's White House. Or his military. Or his Justice Department. These are all things that existed before Donald Trump ever even thought of running for president. And they are things that will exist long after he leaves the White House.

The destruction of presidential records is only the latest example of the fact that Trump simply doesn't grasp that idea. Any of it.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 51079

Reported Deaths: 2756
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion12019693
Lake5588248
Elkhart353959
Allen2939134
St. Joseph210669
Hamilton1691101
Cass16449
Hendricks1454100
Johnson1340118
Porter82638
Tippecanoe7709
Vanderburgh7276
Clark69544
Madison67464
LaPorte61628
Howard59858
Bartholomew59745
Kosciusko5754
Marshall5449
Noble51328
LaGrange4849
Boone48244
Jackson4783
Delaware47152
Hancock46736
Shelby45425
Floyd40644
Morgan34231
Monroe34028
Grant31826
Dubois3046
Henry30018
Montgomery29720
Clinton2903
White27410
Dearborn25823
Decatur25632
Lawrence25225
Vigo2528
Warrick25029
Harrison21722
Greene19432
Miami1932
Jennings17912
Putnam1738
DeKalb1694
Scott1649
Wayne1546
Daviess15017
Perry14710
Orange13723
Steuben1362
Jasper1352
Ripley1307
Franklin1278
Gibson1202
Wabash1162
Carroll1142
Fayette1067
Whitley1066
Starke1043
Newton10010
Huntington942
Jefferson862
Wells821
Randolph794
Fulton731
Knox710
Jay700
Washington681
Pulaski661
Clay645
Rush613
Posey570
Spencer541
Owen521
Benton510
Sullivan501
Adams491
Brown431
Blackford402
Fountain352
Crawford330
Switzerland320
Tipton321
Parke270
Martin260
Ohio230
Vermillion200
Warren151
Union140
Pike110
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 64214

Reported Deaths: 3036
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin11724445
Cuyahoga8979393
Hamilton6781207
Lucas2952305
Marion274539
Montgomery244035
Summit2327209
Pickaway222241
Mahoning1928239
Butler182147
Columbiana137860
Stark1214114
Lorain112069
Trumbull104578
Warren97725
Clark80010
Delaware69815
Fairfield66717
Tuscarawas60410
Lake58923
Medina58232
Belmont56922
Licking56812
Miami50631
Portage49259
Wood48851
Clermont4737
Ashtabula44744
Geauga42543
Wayne37253
Richland3715
Allen35641
Greene3439
Mercer29910
Erie27122
Holmes2595
Darke25626
Huron2402
Madison2169
Ottawa17324
Sandusky16015
Washington14620
Ross1443
Coshocton1423
Athens1391
Crawford1385
Putnam13715
Hardin12312
Morrow1201
Auglaize1094
Jefferson1092
Muskingum1001
Union931
Preble901
Monroe8917
Hancock861
Lawrence830
Guernsey823
Clinton811
Hocking809
Williams762
Shelby744
Logan711
Ashland672
Carroll673
Fulton670
Scioto670
Wyandot635
Brown611
Fayette550
Defiance533
Knox531
Champaign511
Highland501
Van Wert471
Perry441
Seneca412
Henry330
Paulding300
Jackson280
Pike280
Adams261
Vinton232
Gallia201
Noble140
Harrison131
Meigs130
Morgan110
Unassigned00
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