CNN has obtained a tape recording of a conversation from 2021 involving former US President Donald Trump, in which he discusses classified documents and military secrets that he allegedly had in his possession. The recording sheds light on Trump’s handling of sensitive information and his alleged involvement in the illegal retention of classified documents.
The tape recording comes in the wake of the Mar-a-Lago case, where Trump was indicted for retaining classified documents at his resort in Palm Beach, Florida after leaving the presidency. Trump pleaded not guilty to 37 counts related to the mishandling of classified documents. The newly accessed tape provides additional insight into the nature of the documents and Trump’s discussions surrounding them.
Contents of the Tape
According to CNN, the tape recording spans approximately two minutes and captures Trump discussing various documents, including military secrets and a plan to attack Iran. Trump expresses anger over a New Yorker article that reported Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley’s opposition to striking Iran, fearing it could lead to a larger conflict. In the recording, Trump refers to the Pentagon attack plans, stating, “These are the papers,” a quote not included in the indictment.
Furthermore, the tape reveals Trump and his aides joking about Hillary Clinton’s emails. When Trump refers to the document as “secret information,” one of his staffers remarks that Clinton would often print it out. Trump responds with a reference to Anthony Weiner, a former Democratic congressman, which elicits laughter from those present.
Trump’s Claims and Contradictions
In the recording, Trump can be heard claiming that the documents were given to him by the military and were highly confidential. However, this contradicts his previous statement in a Fox News interview where he denied having any documents with him. Trump dismissed the documents as newspaper stories, magazine stories, and articles, stating that there was nothing to declassify.
Origin and Context of the Recording
The audio recording originates from a July 2021 interview Trump gave at his Bedminster resort for people involved in the memoir of Mark Meadows, his former chief of staff. The special counsel’s indictment alleges that classified information about the plan to attack Iran was shown to attendees, including a writer, publisher, and two of Trump’s staff members.
Reactions and Statements
A campaign spokesman for Trump, Steven Cheung, claimed that the audio tape provides context to prove Trump’s innocence, reiterating that he did nothing wrong. The emergence of this tape adds a new dimension to the ongoing legal proceedings and public discourse surrounding Trump’s handling of classified information.
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