Newly released audio of Donald Trump apparently showing off classified documents in 2021 may undercut his defense against federal charges.
The conversation was a key part of the special counsel Jack Smith’s indictment against Trump, according to CNN, and took place in July 2021 with Trump, two staffers along with a writer and publisher who were working on then-chief of staff Mark Meadows’ memoirs, the Times reported.
In the recording, papers can be heard shuffling and Trump suggests he is holding secret documents about Pentagon plans to attack Iran. “They presented me this – this is off the record but – they presented me this. This was him,” Trump said, referring to Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Trump can be heard saying the documents are “highly confidential, secret. This is secret information.”
“See, as president I could have declassified it, but now I can’t,” Trump continues.
Laughing, a woman says “Now we have a problem.”
Earlier this month, Trump pleaded not guilty to 37 charges, including unauthorized retention of classified documents and obstruction of justice, regarding classified documents improperly kept at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
In an interview with Fox News last week, Trump claimed he did not have any classified documents, and was referring in that conversation to “newspaper stories, magazine stories and articles.”
In a statement Monday night, Trump spokesman Steven Cheung said: “The audio tape provides context proving, once again, that President Trump did nothing wrong at all. The media and the Trump-haters once again were all too willing to take the bait, falling for another Democrat-DOJ hoax, hook, line, and sinker.”