Former President Donald Trump admitted on tape during a 2021 meeting that he kept secret military information that he had not declassified, according to a transcript of the audio recording obtained by CNN.
As president, I could have declassified, but now I can’t, Trump said, according to the transcript.
CNN has obtained the transcript of part of the meeting where Trump discusses a classified Pentagon document on the Iran attack. In the audio recording, which CNN previously reported was obtained by prosecutors, Trump says he has not declassified the document he is referring to, according to the transcript.
Trump was charged on Thursday with seven counts in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into the mishandling of classified documents. Details of the indictment have not been made public, so it is impossible to know if any of the seven counts refer to the recorded 2021 meeting. Still, the tape is important because it shows that Trump understood that the recordings he had with him at Mar-a-Lago after he left the White House remained classified.
Publicly, Trump claimed that all documents he brought with him to his residence in Florida were declassified, as he railed against the special advocates’ investigation as a political witch hunt trying to interfere with his 2024 presidential campaign.
CNN first reported last week that prosecutors obtained the audio recording of the Trumps 2021 meeting at its Bedminster, New Jersey, compound with two people working on the autobiography of Trump’s former chief of staff. , Mark Meadows, as well as aides employed by the former president, including communications specialist Margo Martin.
The transcript of the audio recording suggests that Trump shows the document he is discussing to those in the room. Multiple sources told CNN that the recording picks up the sound of crumpling paper, as if Trump was waving the document, but it’s unclear if this is the real Iranian document.
Secret. This is secret information. Look, look at this, Trump said at one point, according to the transcript. It was made by the military and given to me.
At the meeting, Trump complained about the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley. The meeting came shortly after The New Yorker published an article by Susan Glasser detailing how, in the final days of Trump’s presidency, Milley called on the Joint Chiefs of Staff to ensure that Trump n issued any illegal orders and that he would be informed if there was a problem.
Well, with Milley uh, let me see that, I’ll show you an example. He said I wanted to attack Iran. Isn’t it amazing? I have a big stack of papers, this thing just happened. Look. It was him, Trump said, according to the transcript. They presented me with this, it’s unofficial, but they presented me with this. It was him. It was the Ministry of Defense and him. We looked at a few. It was him. It wasn’t me who did it, it was him.
Journalist reports ‘tiny ray of hope’ for Trump in indictment detail
Trump continues: All kinds of pages of long stuff, look. Wait a minute, let’s see here. I just found out, isn’t it amazing? That totally wins my case, you know. Except it’s like, highly confidential. Secret. This is secret information. Look, look at this.
Secret and Confidential are two levels of classification for sensitive government documents.
In March, prosecutors subpoenaed Trump for the document referenced in the 2021 filing. Trump’s lawyers provided documents related to Iran and Milley in response to the subpoena, but they did not. could find the document itself.
Federal prosecutors have been investigating Trump for mishandling classified documents brought to Mar-a-Lago and obstructing the investigation. Trump’s lawyer said the former president was summoned by the Justice Department to appear in court in South Florida on Tuesday.
The Mar-a-Lago investigation is one of two led by Smith, who was appointed special counsel in November by Attorney General Merrick Garland. Smiths’ investigation into efforts to nullify the 2020 election is still ongoing.
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