White House staff repeatedly found "wads of printed paper" clogging former President Donald Trump's toilet in his residence, raising suspicions that Trump had flushed documents, according to a new book from New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman.
Trump, who reportedly had a habit of tearing up documents and failing to follow federal document preservation laws, needed a repairman on more than one occasion to fix his bathroom plumbing, according to Haberman's upcoming book "Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America," which was recently excerpted by Axios.
Staff at the "White House residence would periodically find the toilet clogged," Haberman told CNN on Thursday. "The engineer would have to come and fix it, and what the engineer would find would be wads of, you know, clumped up printed wet paper."
Haberman stressed that this was "not toilet paper."
"This was either notes or some other piece of paper that they believe he had thrown down the toilet. What it could be, Brianna, it could be anybody's guess," she told host Brianna Keilar. "It could be Post-Its, it could be notes he wrote to himself, it could be other things, we don't know. But it certainly does add ... another dimension to what we know about how he handled material in the White House."
Haberman said she is not sure how many times the toilet was clogged but "it was not just once."
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Trump denied the report in a statement on Thursday morning.
"Another fake story, that I flushed papers and documents down a White House toilet, is categorically untrue and simply made up by a reporter in order to get publicity for a mostly fictitious book," he said.
Trump himself extensively spoke to Haberman for the book, according to Axios, which described his "marathon sessions" with authors whose reporting he later denied.
Bloomberg White House reporter Jennifer Jacobs backed up Haberman's account as "100% accurate."
"Staff did find clumped/torn/shredded papers and fished them out from blocked bathroom toilet — and believed it had been the president's doing, sources told me at the time," she said on Twitter.
Many social media users jokingly linked the new report to Trump's frequent complaints about plumbing.
"Now we know why he was so angry and obsessed with low flush toilets," tweeted Salon columnist Amanda Marcotte.
"People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once," Trump complained while still in office.
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The report raises further questions about the handling of sensitive materials in the Trump White House.
Trump repeatedly tore up documents that had to be taped back together. The National Archives and Records Administration has said that some documents turned over to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot had to be reconstructed. Archives officials also had to recover 15 boxes of White House documents that had been improperly brought to Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort, according to the New York Times. Officials believe those boxes contained classified documents. The Mar-a-Lago trove included letters from world leaders, including those Trump once described as "love letters" from North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, and gifts and mementos that are property of the federal government under the Presidential Records Act. The boxes also included Trump's infamous Hurricane Dorian map, on which he used a black Sharpie to draw his own hurricane track in order to back up his incorrect claim that the storm was headed for Alabama.
Trump claimed in a statement that the report was "fake news" and that the papers were turned over to the Archives "easily and without conflict and on a very friendly basis."
"In actuality, I have been told I was under no obligation to give this material based on various legal rulings that have been made over the years," he claimed.
But National Archives officials believe Trump may have violated the Presidential Records Act, and have asked the Justice Department to investigate the former president for a possible crime, according to the Washington Post. The Archives said in a statement that Trump's team is still "continuing to search" for additional records.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump repeatedly maligned former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for using a private email server in office, calling her unfit to be president because of her "extremely careless" handling of "very sensitive, highly classified information."
Not only did Trump improperly remove potentially classified documents from the White House, according to reports, but his daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner, both used personal email for White House business while serving as his top advisers.
Anne Weismann, the longtime chief counsel for Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington, told the Post that Trump "clearly violated the records act in multiple ways, and that — even if the statute was essentially not enforceable — the Justice Department should still investigate."
Weismann added that if the Justice Department doesn't investigate, "given how flagrant these violations appear to be, it would basically be saying there is no accountability under the statute."
The House Oversight Committee on Thursday launched its own investigation into the documents taken from the White House to Mar-a-Lago. Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., said in a letter to National Archives chief David Ferriero that she is "deeply concerned that these records were not provided to NARA promptly at the end of the Trump administration and that they appear to have been removed from the White House in violation of the Presidential Records Act."
"I am also concerned by recent reports that while in office, President Trump repeatedly attempted to destroy presidential records, which could constitute additional serious violations of the PRA," Maloney wrote. "Former President Trump and his senior advisors must also be held accountable for any violation of the law," she added. "Republicans in Congress obsessively investigated former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton for her use of a private email server for official communications. Former President Trump's conduct, in contrast, involves a former president potentially violating a criminal law."
Read more on the Trump White House records: