The Final Days of the Trump White House: Chaos and Scattered Papers

Four days before the end of the Trump presidency, a White House aide peered into the Oval Office and was startled, if not exactly surprised, to see all of the president’s personal photos still arrayed behind the Resolute Desk as if nothing had changed — guaranteeing the final hours would be a frantic dash mirroring the prior four years.

In the area known as the outer Oval Office, boxes had been brought in to pack up desks used by President Donald J. Trump’s assistant and personal aides. But documents were strewn about, and the boxes stood nearly empty. The table in Mr. Trump’s private dining room off the Oval Office was stacked high with papers until the end, as it had been for his entire term.

Upstairs in the White House residence, there were, however, a few signs that Mr. Trump had finally realized his time was up. Papers he had accumulated in his last several months in office had been dropped into boxes, roughly two dozen of them, and not sent to the National Archives. Aides had even retrieved letters from Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, and given them to Mr. Trump in the final weeks, according to notes described to The New York Times.

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