Donald Trump reportedly disposed of thousands of White House documents he was legally obligated to preserve for the National Archives by tearing them into shreds and making his staffers and aides eat them to prove their loyalty.
The first person Mr. Trump made eat paper was Jeff Sessions, who Trump daily berated verbally and physically for recusing himself from the investigation into Russian election meddling. The practice then picked up dramatically following the resignation of Chief of Staff John Kelly in January of 2019.
Kelly’s replacement, Mark Meadows, was reportedly eager to please his boss at first, and began to eat copious amounts of paper without being explicitly asked. A former White House staffer, who requested anonymity to avoid potential litigation due to the nondisclosure agreement Trump had him sign, explained that Trump appreciated the display of debasement, and appropriated it into the general culture of his administration.
Though Meadows was the fiber king of the Oval Office, ultimately consuming some two dozen reams worth of paper over his two year tenure, Ted Cruz was reportedly a close second. Trump was simultaneously impressed and repulsed by how eager Cruz was to show off his loyalty.
“It got pretty degrading by the end,” explained the staffer. “Trump started writing really nasty things about Ted’s wife on the various memos with his trademark sharpie marker, but Ted just kept gobbling them up and asking for more. About once a week Ted would ask Trump if he had earned an endorsement yet, and Trump would shriek, empty his Diet Coke can on Ted’s head, and snap at Ivanka to go get him some international treaty Barack Obama had signed when he was president to shove into Ted’s mouth.
Lindsey Graham initially refused to participate in the document eating, saying that if Republicans started regularly consuming Trump’s daily briefings there would be “hell to pay” for the party. But by Trump’s fourth year in office, Graham wasn’t even removing staples or paperclips from the packets he was eating anymore.
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