Claims that Donald Trump periodically blocked up White House and other drains with wads of paper appear to be borne out in photographs leaked ahead of the publication of a new account of the 45th presidency.
On Monday, Axios published photos of folded-up paper, marked with Trump’s telltale handwriting, using his favored pen, a Sharpie, submerged at the bottom of various toilet bowls.
The photographs were released in advance of the publication of Confidence Man, a book by the Trump White House correspondent for the New York Times, Maggie Haberman, set for October.
Trump, described by Axios as “a notorious destroyer of Oval Office documents”, was the alleged flusher. But photographs of presidential White House toilet document dumps are possible evidence of a violation of the Presidential Records Act.
According to Haberman, the disposals occurred multiple times at the White House, and on at least two foreign trips. Most words are illegible, but one name that is clearly visible is that of the New York Republican congresswoman and potential 2024 running mate Elise Stefanik.
“That Mr Trump was discarding documents this way was not widely known within the West Wing, but some aides were aware of the habit, which he engaged in repeatedly,” Haberman writes, according to the outlet.
“It was an extension of Trump’s term-long habit of ripping up documents that were supposed to be preserved under the Presidential Records Act.”
In the forthcoming book, Haberman, whose reporting often drew angry reactions from Trump, also reveals that she was told that the ex-president has maintained contact with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.
Letters from Kim – once described by Trump as “love letters” – were among 15 boxes of documents, letters, gifts and mementoes that turned up at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate a year after he left office.
According to an earlier Axios report, Haberman’s account of the Trump presidency is the one that “Trump fears most”. Several advisers are unhappy with his decision to talk to the reporter but he concluded that he could not help himself – despite once calling her a “maggot”.
“You have to be pretty desperate to sell books if pictures of paper in a toilet bowl is part of your promotional plan,” a Trump spokesperson, Taylor Budowich, told Axios in advance of Monday’s report.
“We know … there’s enough people willing to fabricate stories like this in order to impress the media class – a media class who is willing to run with anything, as long as it is anti-Trump,” Budowich added.