Donald Trump’s ex-aide Mick Mulvaney claimed the former president tore “documents into half” during his time in office, days after the FBI allegedly recovered classified documents at the Republican leader’s Mar-a-Lago residence.
“I have said this before, yes I saw the president rip documents in half,” the former chief of staff told CNN.
“Not confidential documents, but just draft documents,” Mr Mulvaney added.
“You’re not supposed to do that, but there’s a way to fix it. Which is you just find the pieces and you just tape them together.”
Mr Mulvaney went on to give an example by saying that he used to “rip up documents in the private sector all the time”.
“It’s not an indication of ill intent,” he stressed.
His remarks came just days after the FBI recovered 11 sets of classified documents from the 45th president’s private residence and office in Florida. While some of the documents were marked top secret, others were only meant to be viewed in a secure government facility.
The former president has claimed the documents had been declassified.
Photos had also emerged purporting to show fragments of presidential documents that were flushed down toilets, in a potential violation of the Presidential Records Act that required him to preserve them.
Mr Trump can be penalised if he is found to have broken the law for keeping executive branch documents that should have been turned over to the National Archives.
Mr Mulvaney said there is a system in place to “protect things” regardless of how the “president wanted to act or behave”.
“...If the president has confidential materials on his desk at the end of one meeting, which is possible and likely and happens. The staff comes in to make sure that all of that stuff is gone and put in a proper place before the next meeting,” he added.
Earlier, Mr Trump's former press secretary Stephanie Grisham said she thought the Republican leader's habit of tearing up documents was a “nervous tick”.
“He always tore everything up,” she said.
“I do recall on a flight we were headed to the Middle East on one of our surprise Christmas troop visits and I was sitting behind him watching him because there was nothing else to watch.
“And he was going through his boxes and he was keeping some things in a folder, he was signing some things,” Ms Grisham said.
“He was tearing some things up and throwing it on the floor, which was completely normal. He did that in the White House. He did that in the residence. And then he would tear up some pieces of paper and I saw him put some of the torn up pieces of paper in his jacket inside pocket,” she added.