Following the defeat of Donald Trump in the November 2020 US presidential election, Joe Biden and a new Democratic administration will take over the White House on 20 January. Historians, however, are concerned that the outgoing president's reported habit of routinely destroying official documents will leave a hole in the historical record.
Speaking to AP, Richard Immerman at the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, said that "not only has record-keeping not been a priority, but we have multiple examples of it seeking to conceal or destroy that record".
It is customary for an outgoing president to hand over official documents to the successor administration, but according to several reports, this transfer has become problematic due to Trump's destruction of records.
The president is also alleged to be prone to destroying documents and throwing them into the trash or on the floor, Politico first reported in 2018.
Due to Trump's purported inclination to tear up official presidential papers, aides spent hours taping documents back together before delivering them to the National Archives to be appropriately filed.
Records staff and historians now fear that they will have to carry out similar work, with one person telling Fortune that they are "petrified" by the encroaching job they have ahead.
In addition, the transfer of documents to the National Archives and Records has been delayed due to Trump's continuing refusal to concede the 2020 election, which presents further problems as the process must legally be finalized by 20 January.