Updated Feb 10, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Haberman book: Flushed papers found clogging Trump WH toilet

Cover of Maggie Haberman's book

Cover: Penguin Press

While President Trump was in office, staff in the White House residence periodically discovered wads of printed paper clogging a toilet — and believed the president had flushed pieces of paper, Maggie Haberman scoops in her forthcoming book, "Confidence Man."

Why it matters: The revelation by Haberman, whose coverage as a New York Times White House correspondent was followed obsessively by Trump, adds a vivid new dimension to his lapses in preserving government documents. Axios was provided an exclusive first look at some of her reporting.

Haberman reports Trump has told people that since leaving office, he has remained in contact with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un — whose "love letters," as Trump once called them, were among documents the National Archives retrieved from Mar-a-Lago.

Zoom out: The news of White House toilet-flushing comes as the National Archives has reportedly asked the Biden Justice Department to examine Trump's handling of White House records, amid the congressional investigation into the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.

  • The Washington Post reports that National Archives officials "suspected Trump had possibly violated laws concerning the handling of government documents." The National Archives later retrieved 15 boxes from Mar-a-Lago, The Post reported.
  • Archives officials found possible classified material in the returned boxes, The New York Times learned.

While in office, the former president blithely flouted the Presidential Records Act, which required him to preserve written communications concerning his official duties.

  • Trump routinely tore up documents and after leaving office brought substantial written materials back to Mar-a-Lago.
  • A Trump spokesman didn't respond to a request for comment about the plumbing matter.

Zoom in: Haberman’s "Confidence Man" — subtitled "The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America" — will be published Oct. 4 by Penguin Press.

  • The publisher says it traces Trump's early life in New York and "his decades of interactions with prosecutors" — then follows him through four years in the White House, and on to his post-presidential life in Palm Beach.

The intrigue: This is the book Trump fears most. Among Trump aides, Haberman's book has been the most discussed of the bookshelf of books from reporters who covered Trump's campaigns and White House.

  • Several advisers were unhappy about his decision to talk to her as part of his marathon conversations with book authors at Mar-a-Lago. But they concluded he couldn’t help himself and couldn't be stopped.

Haberman, a lifelong New Yorker, has covered Trump extensively since 2011, when she was a Politico reporter. Earlier, she got to know his Manhattan milieu as a reporter for the New York Post and Daily News.


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