In a significant development, federal prosecutors have acquired an audio recording in which former President Donald Trump admits to keeping a classified document related to Iran’s war plans after his tenure at the White House, according to verified sources. Trump acknowledges in the recording that he should have declassified the material while he held the presidential office, indicating that he did not undertake the necessary formal procedures during his tenure.
The audio recording strongly suggests that Trump had physical possession of the document during the conversation, though it remains unclear who else may have viewed its contents due to the nature of the recording being audio-only.
This particular recording took place during a meeting held at Trump’s New Jersey golf club in July 2021, as Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, was in the process of writing a memoir. It is worth noting that one of Trump’s aides routinely recorded interviews for books about him during that year, as reported by The New York Times. The existence of the recording was initially reported by CNN on Wednesday.
Responding to reports about the recording, a spokesperson for Trump referred to them as “political persecution” in a statement provided to POLITICO. The spokesperson further criticized what they described as “leaks from radical partisans,” suggesting that such actions were intended to provoke tension and perpetuate media harassment against Trump and his supporters. Additionally, the spokesperson condemned the Department of Justice’s alleged interference in the presidential election and called for an end to what they deemed a meritless investigation driven by Democratic political objectives.
The Department of Justice is presently conducting an investigation into Trump’s handling of classified material, a charge that Trump vehemently denies. The focus of the investigation primarily centers around documents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.
James Trusty, a lawyer representing Trump in the case, asserted on CNN Wednesday night that Trump’s stance is that he had declassified the material he took with him upon leaving office. Trusty argued that, as the commander-in-chief when he departed for Mar-a-Lago with boxes of documents packed by others, Trump possessed the constitutional authority to declassify the materials.