Former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham is not the least bit surprised about reports that Donald Trump shredded many official documents and removed others to his home when he left office in apparent violation of the Presidential Records Act.
“I wasn’t surprised when I saw the report,” Grisham told CNN on Friday, referring to an initial story in The Washington Post. “I think that what’s important is this is another example of a White House and an administration that just — we had no rules. We followed no rules.”
Grisham also noted that the former president is a “very, very paranoid man.” She surmised that this fed into Trump’s almost obsessive destruction of documents and confirmed the Post’s reporting that “he always tore everything up.”
The former press secretary recalled being on a flight with Trump to the Middle East and watching him going through boxes. He put some papers in folders, signed others — and ripped up the rest, she said.
“He was tearing some things up and throwing it on the floor, which was completely normal. He did that in the White House. He did that in the residence. And then he would tear up some pieces of paper and I saw him put some of the torn up pieces of paper in his jacket inside pocket,” she added.
Staffers reportedly scooped up what they could of the shredded paper throughout Trump’s years in the White House to tape the pieces back together in an effort to comply with the law. But some documents were destroyed in “burn bags” or lost to the trash.
The Presidential Records Act requires that all documents related to a president’s official duties — from briefings to schedules to emails and memos — be turned over to the National Archives and Records Administration upon their departure from office.
The National Archives confirmed early this week that it managed to recover 15 boxes of documents that Trump had removed to his residence at Mar-a-Lago in Florida when he left office.
The boxes of documents he took with him included historically important communications, including a letter that former President Barack Obama left for Trump when he took over the Oval Office, and letters from North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, sources told the Post.
He also took classified information, the Post reported. National Archives officials have asked the Department of Justice to investigate Trump’s handling of the records.
Grisham said she believes it must all be investigated and called it “another example of what we do not want, ever, back in our government at the highest level in the White House again.”
Watch the full interview in the video up top.