Toilet photos undercut Trump claim he never tried to flush presidential records

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New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman released photos on Monday that appear to show that former President Donald Trump tried to dispose of documents by ripping them up and placing them in toilets.

The pictures, which appear to back up Haberman's reporting in her forthcoming book, "Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America," support reporting from multiple news outlets that Trump routinely ripped up documents in violation of the Presidential Records Act.

Haberman obtained the photos, which were first published by Axios and which she also shared with Yahoo News, from sources inside the former administration.

"On the left is a White House toilet, the word 'qualified' and a capital I visible," Haberman wrote in a tweet on Monday. "On the left, a toilet from a Trump trip overseas."

Photos showing torn pieces of paper at the bottom of toilets.
Photos showing torn pieces of paper at the bottom of toilets. (Courtesy of Maggie Haberman)

Other words on the torn-up sheets of paper, written with a marker, include the name “Stefanik,” in apparent reference to Rep. Elise Stefanik, the House Republican from New York who staunchly defended Trump throughout his second impeachment.

When Haberman first reported Trump's penchant for attempting to dispose of documents and notes by flushing them down the toilet, a practice that staffers said sometimes resulted in clogs requiring a plumber to fix, the former president sternly denied that the allegations were true.

"Also, 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," Trump said in a statement in February.

On Monday, even after photographic evidence was published that appeared to back up the toilet claims, Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich continued to try to cast doubt on the story.

"You have to be pretty desperate to sell books if pictures of paper in a toilet bowl is part of your promotional plan," Budowich told Axios.

As part of the Presidential Records Act, U.S. presidents are required by law to preserve letters, emails and work documents and transfer them to the National Archives. After the Jan. 6 House select committee requested presidential records from the National Archives relating to the insurgency at the U.S. Capitol, Trump filed suit to block that transfer of documents, but federal judges and the Supreme Court ruled against the former president.

In February, it was learned that Trump had improperly removed 15 boxes of documents, some of which were labeled "Top Secret," from the White House; he then sent those boxes to Mar-a-Lago, his Florida golf resort. The National Archives requested an investigation into how the documents ended up there. The Archives has since retrieved the boxes.

"The media's characterization of my relationship with NARA [National Archives and Records Administration] is Fake News. It was exactly the opposite! It was a great honor to work with NARA to help formally preserve the Trump Legacy," Trump said in a statement released in February.