Audio recording provides prosecutors with evidence that Trump retained classified information after leaving office, contradicting his claims
Federal prosecutors have obtained an audio recording from 2021 in which former US President Donald Trump admits to keeping a classified Pentagon document about a potential attack on Iran after leaving the White House, according to CNN.
The recording suggests that Trump understood he retained classified material and wanted to share the information, but was aware of the limitations on his ability to declassify documents after his presidency. The recording is seen as an important piece of evidence in the investigation into Trump's handling of classified documents and his attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
The meeting where Trump discussed the classified document reportedly took place in July 2021 at his golf club in New Jersey. Attendees included people working on an autobiography of Trump's former chief of staff Mark Meadows and other aides, none of whom had security clearances. Trump referred to a four-page report allegedly prepared by General Mark Milley, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, outlining a plan to attack Iran. However, the document was not produced by Milley.
The revelation of the recording raises legal concerns for Trump as he pursues his third bid for the presidency. Prosecutors have questioned witnesses about the recording and the document in front of a federal grand jury. The investigation is said to be nearing its end, although no criminal charges have been filed yet.
Trump and his attorneys have offered different explanations regarding the declassification of documents, initially claiming a standing declassification order and later stating that materials were inadvertently packed up or automatically declassified. However, there is no evidence that Trump followed the legally mandated declassification process.