It’s been well documented that Rep. Scott Perry met then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows after the 2020 election, which was itself controversial: By all accounts, the Republicans were exploring how best to keep Donald Trump in power, despite his defeat. But just as notable is what happened in the immediate aftermath of their conversation.
Politico reported in May that Meadows, after meeting with the chair of the House Freedom Caucus, discarded papers in a White House fireplace. The revelation came by way of Cassidy Hutchinson, the chief of staff’s top aide.
As it turns out, however, this may not have been an isolated incident. CNN reported overnight:
Additionally, she told the committee that she saw Meadows burn documents in his office fireplace around a dozen times — about once or twice a week — between December 2020 and mid-January 2021. On several occasions, Hutchinson said, she was in Meadows’ office when he threw documents into the fireplace after a meeting. At least twice, the burning came after meetings with GOP Rep. Scott Perry, a Pennsylvania Republican, who has been linked to the efforts to use the Justice Department to overturn the 2020 election.
The information comes by way of transcripts released by the Jan. 6 committee yesterday afternoon.
The CNN report added, “Hutchinson said she did not know what the documents were, whether they were original copies, or whether they were required by law to be preserved.”
To be sure, some of this might sound familiar. In May, both The New York Times and The Washington Post, relying on insights from congressional investigators, reported that Donald Trump’s chief of staff “used his fireplace to burn documents.” What we did not know was just how often Meadows set fire to materials in his office during a critically important period of time.
“Maybe a dozen, maybe just over a dozen,” Hutchinson testified, “but this is over a period, December through mid-January too, which is when we started lighting the fireplace.”
Stepping back, Team Trump has proved to have a document deletion problem, as evidenced by erased text messages. It also has proved to have a document mishandling problem, as evidenced by the classified materials the Republican stored at Mar-a-Lago.
But these latest revelations add to a third category: Team Trump’s apparent document destruction problem, as evidenced by the alleged misuse of fireplaces and toilets.
To reiterate a point from the spring, the documents we’ve already seen from the Republican White House are some of the most damning in American history. It’s hard not to wonder what might have been in the materials Meadows thought to literally set on fire.