Audio emerges of Donald Trump discussing documents: In what may be the most damning material in his federal indictment, the former president is said to have shown classified material to people without security clearances, and known at the time that he was doing so.
CNN obtained and published audio of this on Monday night.
Donald Trump Is In Big Trouble
When he was indicted in federal court earlier this month, one accusation against Donald Trump appeared especially damning: That he had shown classified material to a group of biographers who lacked security clearances, that he had stated that he knew the material was classified, and that tape existed of him doing so.
This was damning because it showed that Trump had classified material that he wasn’t supposed to have and that he knew he wasn’t supposed to have it.
On Monday night, CNN published the audio from the conversation.
It didn’t reveal much that wasn’t already in the indictment, but it does paint a bad picture of the former president, indicating that he had consciousness of guilt.
The two-minute recording was made in 2021 after Trump left office when he was meeting with ghostwriters for the memoir of Mark Meadows, who was White House chief of staff during the final period of Trump’s presidency. It’s not clear who provided the recordings to CNN.
They were discussing a reported dispute in which Trump claimed Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had wanted to attack Iran, while Trump argued against it. He then reached for papers, which he had at the ready, supposedly to prove his case while talking to the biographers. Milley had claimed in a New Yorker article, published around that time, that he had not wanted to attack that country, which appeared to make Trump eager to correct the record.
“He said that I wanted to attack Iran, Isn’t it amazing?,” Trump is heard saying on the tape. “I have a big pile of papers, this thing just came up. Look. This was him. They presented me this – this is off the record but – they presented me this. This was him. This was the Defense Department and him.”
“See as president I could have declassified it,” Trump says, in what’s probably the most troublesome comment by the former president. “Now I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret.”
At one point, he says “These are the papers,” and at another point, he calls them “highly confidential,” which seems to indicate that the papers he was brandishing were the actual documents, rather than newspaper articles, as he had implied in his recent Fox News interview with Bret Baier.
Trump and the unnamed female aide are also heard taking shots at his former political opponent, Hillary Clinton, as well as former Congressman Anthony Weiner, the former husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin, whose laptop led to the “Comey letter,” shortly before Trump was elected in 2016.
“Speaking as a Watergate historian, there’s nowhere on thousands of hours of Nixon tapes where Nixon makes any comment as clear, as clearly illegal, and as clearly self-aware as this Trump tape,” Garrett Graff, the historian and author of last year’s book “Watergate: A New History,” said on Twitter Monday.
Trump, as is his tendency, argued after the release of the recording that he did nothing wrong, taking to Truth Social on Monday night.
“COULD SOMEBODY PLEASE EXPLAIN TO THE DERANGED, TRUMP HATING JACK SMITH, HIS FAMILY, AND HIS FRIENDS, THAT AS PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, I COME UNDER THE PRESIDENTIAL RECORDS ACT, AS AFFIRMED BY THE CLINTON SOCKS CASE, NOT BY THIS PSYCHOS’ FANTASY OF THE NEVER USED BEFORE ESPIONAGE ACT OF 1917. ‘SMITH’ SHOULD BE LOOKING AT CROOKED JOE BIDDEN AND ALL OF THE CRIMES THAT HE HAS PERPETRATED ON THE AMERICAN PUBLIC, INCLUDING THE MILLIONS & MILLIONS OF DOLLARS HE EXTORTED FROM FOREIGN COUNTRIES!”
That is not, alas, how the Presidential Records Act works.
Expertise and Experience:
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.