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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 10:45 AM
Updated: Jun 12, 2018 10:45 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.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 60898

Reported Deaths: 1698
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin19271835
Ramsey7572265
Dakota4414106
Anoka3683114
Stearns289320
Washington212845
Nobles17646
Olmsted173223
Scott155919
Mower11012
Rice10328
Blue Earth9185
Wright8845
Carver8613
Clay78440
Sherburne7238
Kandiyohi6961
St. Louis55319
Todd4262
Lyon4253
Freeborn3591
Steele3482
Nicollet33713
Benton3203
Watonwan3080
Winona26116
Beltrami2400
Crow Wing23514
Le Sueur2201
Martin2075
Chisago2011
Goodhue1969
Otter Tail1943
McLeod1810
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Becker1571
Pipestone1579
Polk1534
Waseca1480
Itasca14712
Douglas1441
Carlton1370
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Jackson860
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Rock850
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Cass722
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Fillmore630
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Grant553
Swift531
Roseau520
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Pope480
Houston420
Aitkin401
Norman400
Kanabec361
Redwood360
Wilkin343
Hubbard330
Marshall290
Mahnomen271
Wadena270
Red Lake240
Big Stone220
Lake210
Stevens180
Clearwater140
Traverse110
Lac qui Parle70
Cook50
Kittson30
Lake of the Woods20

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 48781

Reported Deaths: 929
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk10309207
Woodbury371952
Black Hawk312766
Linn237588
Johnson209619
Dallas188535
Buena Vista179412
Scott171814
Dubuque167631
Marshall144426
Pottawattamie132526
Story116614
Wapello90033
Muscatine84748
Webster8017
Crawford7283
Sioux6343
Cerro Gordo62517
Warren5641
Tama55129
Jasper47826
Wright4721
Plymouth4629
Clinton3973
Dickinson3814
Louisa37814
Washington29810
Boone2583
Hamilton2461
Franklin24110
Bremer2267
Clarke2013
Carroll1921
Emmet1924
Clay1901
Shelby1841
Hardin1810
Des Moines1792
Marion1730
Poweshiek1598
Benton1561
Jackson1561
Allamakee1554
Floyd1552
Mahaska13917
Cedar1331
Guthrie1325
Jones1302
Buchanan1271
Henry1254
Hancock1222
Butler1212
Madison1212
Pocahontas1152
Lee1143
Lyon1132
Delaware1121
Humboldt1111
Cherokee1081
Harrison1071
Clayton1043
Taylor980
Iowa971
Winneshiek971
Page940
Kossuth910
Monona910
Mills890
Sac850
Jefferson840
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Osceola830
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Union771
Cass741
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Davis572
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Appanoose493
Howard490
Fremont420
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