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POLITICS

Everything we know about Trump’s audio discussing classified documents

Special Council Jack Smith investigating Trump reportedly has recordings in which the former president acknowledges holding onto classified documents.

Audio recordings of Trump could raise the legal stakes against him
JONATHAN ERNSTREUTERS

Federal prosecutors investigating whether Trump broke the law by keeping in his possession classified documents, reportedly have audio recordings in which the former president acknowledges having one in his possession. CNN first reported that the tapes are from the summer of 2021 and were made during a meeting at his Bedminster, New Jersey golf course.

Trump can be heard discussing a supposed classified Pentagon document which detailed plans for a possible attack on Iran according to the media outlet. The revelation, if true, could raise the legal exposure of the former president for potential criminal charges from Special Council Jack Smith.

Everything we know about Trump’s audio discussing classified documents

The recordings were made during a meeting between Trump and two people working on an autobiography of Mark Meadows who was Trump’s fourth and final Chief of Staff. Also present were aides employed by the former president. None of the people present at the meeting had security clearance.

According to multiple sources, CNN has not been able to hear the recordings, Trump can be heard waving what he says are classified papers and acknowledges that he could not share them, although he wanted to, because of limitations on his ability to declassify documents after leaving office. The document was supposedly a four-page report prepared for the former president by Gen. Mark Milley, his former Joint Chiefs of Staff, marked “secret”, however, CNN was told that the general did not prepare said document.

Trump has continually denied any wrongdoing related to his handling of classified documents that were found in his possession. In total, the government has recouped over 300 classified documents between those that his legal team eventually returned and the ones that were recovered by FBI agents when they searched his Mar-a-Lago resort.

The recordings could increase Trump’s legal exposure

The audios present an increased threat that the Special Council may have the evidence he needs to bring criminal charges against Trump. The former president has been throwing out several lines of defense to explain that he did nothing illegal.

Those include that the National Archives didn’t properly explain how to handle the documents. Also, that even if the documents were classified, that any document could be declassified merely if he thought it.

The recording was made a full year before his foot dragging on returning documents prompted the FBI to execute a search warrant. From what has been reported of the audio, Trump displayed knowledge of the limitations in his ability to take actions to change the national security status of any documents. If the document was real, it also displays that he was aware of the existence of at least one of the hundreds documents that were later recovered.

Neither representatives for Trump nor the Special Council have commented on the report. A spokesperson for the former called the investigation politically motivated. “Leaks from radical partisans behind this political persecution are designed to inflame tensions and continue the media’s harassment of President Trump and his supporters,” said Steven Cheung on behalf of Trump.