During the 2021 meeting, former President Donald Trump admitted on tape that he had undeclassified “classified” military information, according to audio transcripts obtained by CNN.
“I could have declassified as president, but now I can’t,” Trump said, according to the records.
CNN has obtained transcripts of some of the meetings in which President Trump discussed classified Pentagon documents about the attack on Iran. Trump said he did not declassify the documents he referred to, according to an audio recording CNN earlier reported obtained by prosecutors.
Trump was indicted Thursday on 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 unclear whether any of the seven counts refer to the 2021 taped conference. Still, the tape is important because it shows that after President Trump left the White House, he understood that the records he kept at Mar-a-Lago were classified.
President Trump has publicly claimed that all documents he brought to his Florida home have been declassified, while lashing out at the special counsel investigation as a political witch hunt to sabotage the 2024 presidential campaign. It is
CNN first reported last week that prosecutors had obtained audio recordings of Trump’s 2021 meeting at a resort in Bedminster, New Jersey. The recording included a man who helped write the autobiography of former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows and two former presidential aides. This includes communications specialist Margo Martin.
A transcript of the audio recording suggests that President Trump showed the document being discussed to those present. Multiple sources told CNN that the recording contained the rustling of paper as if Trump was swinging it around, but it was not clear if it was an actual Iranian document.
“Secret. This is classified information. Records show that President Trump said at one point, ‘This was done by the military and was given to me.'”
01:20 – Source: CNN
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During the meeting, President Trump complained about Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley. The meeting detailed how, in the final days of Trump’s presidency, Milley instructed the Joint Chiefs of Staff to make sure Trump was not issuing illegal orders and to notify him of any concerns. This was done shortly after the New Yorker published an article by Susan Glasser, who said:
“So Milly and – well, I’ll give you an example, let’s see. But then I came up with this, look, according to the records, this was him,” Trump said. “They handed me this – this is off the record – they handed me this. This was him. This was done by him, not by me.”
Mr Trump continued: “All sorts of things, pages and pages. It’s like, secret, this is confidential information, look at this.”
“Confidential” and “Confidential” are two levels of classification for confidential government documents.
In March, prosecutors subpoenaed President Trump over documents mentioned in the 2021 recording. Trump’s lawyers turned over several documents related to Iran and Millie in response to the subpoena, but the documents themselves were never found.
Federal prosecutors are investigating President Trump for mishandling classified documents brought into Mar-a-Lago and obstructing an investigation. A lawyer for Trump said the former president received a subpoena from the Justice Department to appear in court in southern Florida on Tuesday.
The Mar-a-Lago investigation is one of two cases led by Smith, who was appointed special counsel by Attorney General Merrick Garland in November. Smith’s investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election is ongoing.