We already know a bunch of details about ex-President Trump’s proclivity for ripping papers into tiny shreds after he was finished reading them during his presidency, leaving the work of taping the documents back together to National Archives staffers.
We also learned that Trump liked to discard documents in other weird ways a few months ago, back when reports first surfaced that indicated White House staffers might’ve improperly handled some top secret documents when Trump brought boxes of records to Mar-a-Lago after he exited the White House. Those reports included befuddling details about Trump’s penchant for flushing records down the toilet when he was done reading them.
But it appears the unconventional (*cough* maybe illegal *cough*) document-destruction extended beyond the former president himself — a man who we all know had a lot of mystifying habits to begin with.
Politico confirmed today that then-White House chief-of-staff Mark Meadows was also a bit shady about destroying documents following at least one meeting during his tenure as Trump’s right-hand man.
After a post-2020 election meeting between Meadows and Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), the White House official reportedly set fire to some documents. He apparently did this in his office, which is not only a 🔥 fire hazard 🔥 but a move that could be considered illegal, depending on the nature of the records. That detail is unclear, per Politico and The New York Times, which was first to report on the matter. Information about Meadows burning documents in his office was tucked into the Times’ recent piece on Trump supposedly backing Jan. 6 rioters’ calls to “hang” his former VP Mike Pence.
News of Meadows’ apparent arsonistic behavior was revealed in a deposition that one of Meadows’ former aides recently gave to the Jan. 6 select committee investigating the insurrection and Trump’s efforts to incite the violent attack. The ex-Meadows staffer, Cassidy Hutchinson, reportedly told the congressional panel that she witnessed Meadows setting documents on fire after he had a meeting with Perry, who played a key role in helping Trump and his allies dig up ways to subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Both Politico and the Times make it clear that it is, in fact, unclear what documents were set aflame and whether the action violated federal law, but both news outlets’ sources said Meadows’ record-burning is a crucial focus of the Jan. 6 committee’s investigative work.
Again, details of the destroyed documents and the matters discussed in the Meadows-Perry meeting are still unknown. But we do know that Perry played a sort of liaison role in connecting Trump to Jeffrey Clark. Clark fully bought into Trump’s Big Lie crusade and was a top DOJ official at the time whom Trump considered promoting to the position of acting attorney general after his electoral defeat. When Attorney General Bill Barr announced the DOJ had found no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, Trump was irked and reportedly in search of an election-stealing ally to lead the department — and one who might use the DOJ’s credibility to raise questions about the legitimacy of the election.
And Perry was actively involved at the time in helping Trump, via texts to Meadows, push the Big Lie crusade, according to the Jan. 6 committee.
“Mark, just checking in as time continues to count down,” Perry texted Meadows on Dec. 26, 2020. “11 days to 1/6 and 25 days to inauguration. We gotta get going!”
The plan to install Clark as the head of the DOJ ultimately fell flat, primarily because several members of DOJ leadership warned that they would resign if Trump made such a move.
But the Jan. 6 committee is clearly still interested in Perry’s involvement in the election-stealing scheme. Perry was one of four other Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), that the panel subpoenaed earlier this month for testimony.
What will come of those subpoenas is still unclear, but at least one Republican, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), signaled last night he might comply with the committee’s subpoena as long as lawmakers meet his list of demands, which include requesting that the committee share any evidence related to him they might’ve gathered over the course of the last 10 months.
The Best Of TPM Today
Here’s what you should read this evening:
The latest in Michigan from Matt Shuham: GOP’ers Who Submitted Forged Signatures Are Off The Michigan Ballot
And in case you missed it this morning: Despite Fraudulent Signatures, They Still Want To Be Michigan’s Governor
Predictable: Trump Still Plans To Appear At NRA Convention
The latest on the realities of a post-Roe America, from Kate Riga: How Abortion Clinics Are Bracing For The Day Roe Is Overturned
And in TPM Cafe today: Abortion Bans With No Exceptions Were Always Part Of The GOP’s End Game
Yesterday’s Most Read Story
Crenshaw Is Now In Ukraine And Says He Won’t Speak At NRA Meeting After All Days — Summer Concepcion
What We Are Reading
How gun ownership became a powerful political identity — Dylan Matthews
Uvalde Shooter Fired Outside School for 12 Minutes Before Entering — Elizabeth Findell, Rob Copeland and Douglas Belkin