An audio clip from July 2021 of former President Donald Trump where he discusses classified military documents in his possession was aired by CNN on Monday night, challenging Trump’s recent dismissal of reports about the conversation saying he did not have any classified documents with him when the recording took place.
In the two-minute audio clip, Trump talks about being in possession of “a big pile of papers,” including what is purportedly a classified plan about attacking Iran.
According to CNN, the audio clip was recorded in July 2021 during a meeting between Trump and publishers on a memoir for his White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows at his golf club and resort in Bedminster, New Jersey.
In the recording, the former president attempts to push back on the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley’s claim that he was worried about Trump starting a conflict with Iran after losing the 2020 election.
Trump tells the interviewer, “They presented me this – this is off the record, but they presented me this…This was the Defense Department and him [Milley]”
The former president is then heard arguing that these papers prove his case “you know, except that it is like highly confidential, secret, this is secret information.”
Trump is yet to comment on this revelation on social media but his campaign spokesperson told various outlets that the tape “provides context proving, once again, that President Trump did nothing wrong at all.”
Earlier this month, reports emerged that federal prosecutors—led by Special Counsel Jack Smith—were in possession of an audio recording of the former president talking about holding on to classified documents. It was later reported that this recording was from Trump’s meeting with the publishers of Meadows’ memoir in July 2021 where he acknowledged he could not declassify documents in his possession as he was no longer president. The federal indictment against Trump accuses him of showing classified defense documents about attacking Iran to people without the appropriate clearance in July 2021. During an interview with Fox News last week, Trump dismissed these reports and claimed he had no classified documents with him during the meeting with the publisher saying: “There was nothing to declassify. These were newspaper stories, magazine stories and articles.” However, the clip released by CNN undermines Trump’s claim as he heard saying the information is “highly confidential” and “secret.”
In last week’s interview, Trump told Fox News’ Brett Baier: “It wasn’t a document, OK? I had lots of paper — I had copies of newspaper articles, I had copies of magazines…That was a massive amount of papers and everything else talking about Iran and other things. And it may have been held up or may not, but that was not a document…There was nothing to declassify.”
37 . That is the total number of felony counts Trump has been charged with for for allegedly mishandling classified documents.
CNN obtains the tape of Trump’s 2021 conversation about classified documents (CNN)
Trump Admits Taking ‘Secret’ Document About Iran Attack Without Declassifying It In Audio Recording, Report Says (Forbes)
Trump Indictment Unsealed: 37 Felony Counts Allege He Could Have Put National Security At Risk (Forbes)