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Shredders, Scotch Tape, and Scandal!
A Whitehouse ‘Tape’ Controversy

Controversial White House Tape & Records…
In 2018!?

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One of the things the 1969-1974  Nixon Presidential Administration will always be remembered for are the controversial tape recordings made in the Whitehouse. Now thought of as a matter of history, at the time the taped recordings made at the White House were highly controversial.  These taped records of conversation in the White House are credited as having played a major role in the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

Given all of that history, a situation where tape, record, president, and white house can be used in the same sentence is one that most administrations would try to avoid.  The 45th president of the United States however has a reputation for doing things differently, which may be why we have this interesting story to share with you:

The Presidential Records Act of 1978 states that all presidential records must be preserved.  You may not be familiar with the law, since you’re not President of The United States. So, you know – that’s fair.

When someone is elected to the Presidency of the United States for their first term, there’s a transition period during which they are taught about policies, procedures, and laws they need to abide by.

Despite measures like the briefings given to a president-elect, President Donald Trump apparently has a habit of ripping up things like notes, memos and other papers when he has finished with them. White house staffers have reportedly been taping these documents back together after the President has torn, ripped, or shredded them so that the administration remains in compliance with The Presidential Records Act of 1978.

Invitations, letters and newspaper clips with notes are regularly torn up by President Trump. Clear scotch tape was given to employees to piece the ripped documents back together. One employee who was fired early on in 2018 that had claimed he put papers back together on the job said “We’re making more than $60,000 a year, we need to be doing far more important things than this. It felt like the lowest form of work you can take on without having to empty the trash cans.”

The employee who was fired claims that when he left the office, employees were still regularly engaged in the practice of taping documents back together. Some White House staff called the ripping habit Trump’s ‘unofficial filing system.’ The White House had no comment on the situation when asked.

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Questions:

1) In America, no person – including – the president is not above the law.  Everyone needs to #PlayByTheRules.  That being said, if the documents are able to be pieced back together, does President Trump’s tearing up documents count as ‘document destruction’?  Could it be successfully argued that tearing up documents is just a really bad system of organization that makes records preservation harder?

2) What if the president were to go further though?  Imagine instead of liking to tear up documents when being done with them, a president preferred to set them on fire.  Clearly then, the document would be destroyed.  What would the legal consequences be for violating The Presidential Records Act of 1978?

3) Pick a side: Do you think that there are any laws a president should be exempt from?

– If you agree: What laws should a president be exempt from, and what are the reasons for exempting the president?

– If you disagree: Why should the president have to follow the same laws as everyone else? Are there benefits, and if so what are they?  Is is simply to avoid risks, and if so what risks are being avoided by making presidents follow every single law that everyone else has to follow?  Give a thoughtful, detailed, response!


Be sure to provide full explanations for each of your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here:
https://www.politico.com/story/2018/06/10/trump-papers-filing-system-635164

Contributed by- J. Plummer




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Thank you for letting us experience court for the first time.  It was the best experience ever, thank you for everything. You really made me think about being a judge. Thank you -Mina L [ Twitchell Elementary - Grade 5]

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My favorite part of the fieldtrip to the courthouse is when I got to play the part of Ron. I got to go on the witness chair and speaking. I helped Potter to be not guilty. Thank you for the great opportunity. - Johnathan M  [Harmon Elementary - Grade 4]
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