Trump White House staffer burned papers: Former aide

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A former aide in Donald Trump’s White House says chief of staff Mark Meadows burned papers so often after the 2020 election it left his office smoky and prompted his wife to complain his suits smelled “like a bonfire”.

Cassidy Hutchinson, who was a prominent congressional witness against former President Trump before the House January 6 committee, described the burning papers in a new book called Enough to be released Tuesday.

Hutchinson was a White House staffer in her 20s who worked for Meadows and testified for two hours on national television about the White House’s inner workings leading up to and including the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol.

Trump and Meadows tried to challenge the former president’s election loss in several states.

Both are under indictment in Georgia for what prosecutors have called an illegal conspiracy to overturn the results.

In her book, Hutchinson writes that starting in mid-December, Meadows wanted a fire burning in his office every morning.

She says that when she would enter his office to bring him lunch or a package, she “would sometimes find him leaning over the fire, feeding papers into it, watching to make sure they burned”.

Hutchinson had previously testified to the House January 6 committee that she had seen Meadows burning documents in his office about a dozen times.

Hutchinson said she did not know what papers he was burning but said it raised alarms because federal law regarding presidential records requires staff to keep original documents and send them to the National Archives.

She said one day when Republican Representative Devin Nunes of California came to meet with Meadows, the congressman asked Hutchinson to open the windows in Meadows’ office because it was smoky.

She said she warned Meadows he would set off a smoke alarm.

Later, in the days after the January 6 attack on the Capitol, when Trump’s staffers began packing to move out of the White House, Hutchinson said Meadows’ wife arrived to help and asked the aide to stop lighting the fireplace for Meadows because “all of his suits smell like a bonfire” and she could not keep up with the dry cleaning.

A message seeking comment from Meadows’ lawyer was not returned on Monday.

Hutchinson in her book also described a moment on the morning of January 6, when she said former New York City mayor and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani groped her backstage as Trump addressed his supporters in Washington.

She said Giuliani slid his hand under her blazer and her skirt and ran his hand on her thigh after showing her a stack of documents related to his efforts to overturn the election.

Giuliani denied the allegation in an interview on Newsmax last week, calling it “absolutely false, totally absurd”.

“First, I’m not going to grope somebody at all” he said.

“And number two, in front of like 100 people?”

– AAP

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