President Donald Trump has a habit of tearing up memos, notes, letters and even negative news articles he doesn’t like, according to one of the people tasked with reassembling records the President has hand-shredded.
Solomon Lartey, who said he was abruptly terminated from his job as a records management analyst in March, said he spent at least several hours each day with tape piecing together the torn letters, memos and invitations Trump cast aside.
“We started getting these shredded papers, notes and everything,” Lartey told CNN in an interview on Monday. “We used to have to piece together all of these torn papers, and we weren’t supposed to tell anybody.”
Lartey said his supervisors “only wanted a few people” involved in the painstaking process of putting Trump’s papers back together — a process he likened to “an adult puzzle.”
“I guess they didn’t want to get it out,” said Lartey, who had worked in the White House since the Clinton administration. “When (chief of staff John) Kelly came in, they were leery of the leaks.”
Lartey said the most frequently shredded items that came across his desk were news articles — specifically, ones that depicted Trump in an unflattering light.
“If it was negative, it was definitely going to get torn up,” Lartey said. “But it’s a Presidential record.”
Politico first reported the efforts made by record-keeping officials in the Trump administration to tape back together papers Trump destroyed. Senior White House aides found it too difficult to prevent Trump from ripping up his papers, so they decided instead to have officials like Lartey repair the records instead, Politico reported.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment about the practice. One former administration official said Trump likely ripped up his files out of “habit” more than anything else.
Lartey said he was never given an explanation for his firing, which he said came at the end of the day on March 23. He said he was escorted off the White House grounds by a Secret Service officer.
“When she walked me out and took my badge and the gate close behind me — it was like, damn, that’s 20 years of White House service, gone,” Lartey said. “Some nights, I cried and I was mad because I got comfortable.”
Lartey said he was just a few years away from his retiring with full benefits when the Trump administration fired him. He said he has not yet found another job.