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Opinion Don’t worry, Donald Trump is just a quirky guy who loves to destroy documents

Then-candidate Donald Trump tosses a piece of paper during a town hall event in October 2016. (Mary Schwalm/AFP/Getty Images)
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I’m sorry, I have to say, I didn’t know that you could manic-pixie-dream-president your way through the attempted destruction of a bunch of public records? Is this a thing we’re doing now?

It certainly appears to be what Donald Trump is doing. Article after article, first in The Post and then elsewhere, detail the difficulties the National Archives and Records Administration has faced dealing with Trump’s presidency. First there was the problem of having to return 15 boxes of material Trump had improperly taken with him, and then there was the problem of … taping the documents in those boxes back together. Because, you see, Trump has this fun habit of tearing up papers?

“Former aides said Trump was haphazard in what he ripped, often tearing up papers that were not classified or even particularly sensitive," The Post reported. "Some said they viewed it more as a quirk and not a deliberate attempt to avoid public scrutiny, in part because he was so indiscriminate with what he tore.”

Oh, a quirk! That quirky guy! Some people cut the crusts off their sandwiches, other people like to put all their pens in a line, and Trump just loves to tear up government documents! It’s his hobby and his passion! It’s like papier-mache, but he just stops at the first stage of the process. In a way, it’s a creative outlet.

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Sometimes men have these little hobbies, and we just have to be tolerant of them. Hannibal Lecter, for instance, was a gourmet chef who sourced all his own ingredients! “That’s not a hobby, that’s technically a felony!” Yeah, well, I don’t come to your home and tear the knitting out of your hands. Stop raining on my hobby parade.

Trump even had a little ritual. From The Post: “While he occasionally left tiny scraps, three people who watched him described a regular process — he would tear a sheet of paper in half once, and then rip it once more into quarters.”

It’s cute, right? Who’s to say it’s not quirky and fun? Technically, federal law, I guess, but — besides that? This is just one of those things where you might be worried if you didn’t know he did it all the time and has always been this way. It’s not a crime; it’s Thursday! Nothing to worry about, except in the most boring, strict, legal sense.

Trump is just like one of those old dogs to whom you famously cannot teach new tricks. Obviously if somebody, say, had a hard drive full of government emails, that would be different — but this is just whimsy! This is a man, standing in front of a public record, tearing it into tiny pieces in that way he has.

And that’s not all! Trump also loved to put those torn-up papers in the toilet, according to the New York Times’s Maggie Haberman: “White House residence [staff] periodically found papers clogging a toilet, and believed the president had flushed pieces of paper.” I, for one, see nothing suspicious in this behavior whatsoever. In a way, this was job creation, for plumbers.

Clearly I have been living my life wrong. If I could just go around doing enough arson that people would be like, “Yeah, arson is just this thing she does when she’s stressed,” I would have — not necessarily a better life, given the trail of devastation this would leave in my wake, but certainly a novel defense.

Or can my hobby be grand theft auto? Where is this decided? Do we all just get to do any crimes now as long as we have always done them and the people around us think it’s quirky? Or does it apply only to the destruction or removal of public records? Specifically ones labeled “top secret”?

I hope this isn’t the kind of benefit of the doubt that is only extended to certain people, or I’ll really be up a creek. Imagine if I were to destroy or mishandle a public record and instead of everyone rolling their eyes and shrugging at this cute habit, it became a massive, above-the-fold story that dominated several news cycles! That would be the quirkiest thing of all!

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