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Former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows Routinely Burned White House Documents

Meadows burned documents once or twice a week, his former aide Cassidy Hutchinson told the January 6 committee.

Former Rep. Mark Meadows speaks during a forum on House and GOP Conference rules for the 118th Congress, at the FreedomWorks office in Washington, D.C., on November 14, 2022.

Newly released transcripts from the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, breach of the U.S. Capitol building reveal that one of former President Donald Trump’s top aides regularly burned documents in a White House fireplace in the weeks preceding the violent attack on Congress.

Mark Meadows, who served as Trump’s chief of staff in the final weeks of his presidency, routinely burned documents in his office fireplace, according to a transcript of testimony from his former aide Cassidy Hutchinson.

Transcripts from several witnesses who appeared before the January 6 committee have been released over the past several days, and the committee’s final report was released last week.

The transcript of Hutchinson’s testimony confirms previous reporting from Politico, which said in May that Meadows had been burning White House documents. That reporting was based on information from an undisclosed source.

Hutchinson told the committee that the burning of documents occurred a dozen or so times in December 2020 and January 2021 — weeks during which Trump and his political allies were attempting to overturn President Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election.

Hutchinson’s testimony suggests it’s likely some of the documents that were burned pertained to efforts to overturn the election, given that, on at least two occasions, Meadows burned materials shortly after meeting with Rep. Scott Perry, a Pennsylvania Republican and staunch Trump ally who was involved in the plot to use fake electors to disrupt the certification of the Electoral College.

Meadows burned documents once or twice a week, Hutchinson told the committee earlier this year.

Meadows “would put more logs on the fireplace to keep it burning throughout the day,” Hutchinson said. “And I recall roughly a dozen times where he would take the — I don’t know the formal name for what it’s called that covers the fireplace — but take that off and then throw a few more pieces of paper in with it when he put more logs on the fireplace.”

It’s possible that Meadows violated the Presidential Records Act, especially if the documents were the only copies of notes or conversations regarding Trump’s planned actions.

Hutchinson suggested in her testimony that it was possible Meadows was burning copies of documents or that they were set to be placed in a “burn bag” anyway — a special paper bag used at the White House meant to safely discard sensitive documents. Such an action, however, is typically more procedural, and doesn’t involve the use of personal or office fireplaces. Sensitive documents pertaining to national security, for example, are usually burned at the Pentagon, even if they originated at the White House.

Hutchinson also stated that Meadows “started lighting the fireplace” during the last two months of the Trump presidency, implying that he didn’t regularly burn documents prior to the former president’s election loss.

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