News & Politics

Donald Trump Keeps Using Stacks of Papers to Settle Arguments

Trump with a favored prop on January 11, 2017 in New York City. (Photograph by John Angelillo/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

Among of President Trump‘s strangest beliefs is that a stack of papers makes an irrefutable point. You see it in the photo above, from his January 11 press conference, when he displayed what purported to be a stack of paperwork separating him from the Trump Organization.

You saw it before that, when he signed what he purported to be his tax return.

And you saw it Tuesday, as part of a press conference to sell the Obamacare replacement.

Trump keeps a messy desk, and is proud of it: “Look at my desk. Papers. You don’t see presidents with that on their desk,” he said about the clutter he likes to work in. Though like so much about this president, Trump’s claim that papers mean he’s busy doesn’t hold up to close scrutiny. Fast Company asked neuroscientist Colin Ellard what his messy desk meant, and Ellard noted that from the photos he saw, “A remarkably large number of the items on his desk seem to be about Donald J. Trump.”

We’ll probably never see those tax returns. And the documents at that January press conference? There’s a pretty good case to be made that many of them, at least, were blank.

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.