BREAKING: CNN Obtains Trump Audio Critical to Classified Documents Case

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

CNN claims that it has obtained the audio recording of the 2021 meeting in Bedminster, New Jersey, where former president Donald Trump allegedly discussed holding classified documents. The recording is considered to be a crucial piece of evidence in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s indictment of the former president over the mishandling of classified information.

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“These are the papers,” Trump says in the recording while he’s discussing Pentagon plans regarding Iran; he then refers to something else as “highly confidential.”

Listen:

It sounds like there are several people in the room, and from the conversation, one can infer that they are looking at documents. Here are the lines that might be the most problematic for the former president:

Well, with [General Mark] Milley, let me see that. I’ll show you an example. He said that I wanted to attack Iran. Isn’t it amazing—I have a big pile of papers, [and] this thing just came up, look.

This was him. They presented this to me. This is off the record, but they presented me this. This was him. This was the Defense Department and him. We looked at him. This was him. This wasn’t done by me. This was him. All sorts of stuff. Pages long. 

Isn’t that amazing? This totally wins my case, you know. Except it is like a highly confidential secret. This is secret information. Look, look at this. 

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He also said toward the end of the tape, “See, as President, I could have declassified it. And now I can’t, you know.”

Earlier in the conversation, Trump and a female staffer joked about Hillary Clinton and her classified emails scandal:

FEMALE TRUMP STAFFER: Hillary would print that out all the time, you know. Her private emails.

TRUMP: No, she’d send it to Anthony Weiner. Pervert.

The audio comes from a 2021 meeting:

The audio recording comes from a July 2021 interview Trump gave at his Bedminster resort for people working on the memoir of Mark Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff. The special counsel’s indictment alleges that those in attendance – a writer, publisher and two of Trump’s staff members – were shown classified information about the plan of attack on Iran.

Trump claimed in an interview last week with Fox News’s Brett Baier that he did not have any documents with him at the time of the meeting:

There was no document. That was a massive amount of papers and everything else talking about Iran and other things. And it may have been held up or may not, but that was not a document. I didn’t have a document, per se. There was nothing to declassify. These were newspaper stories, magazine stories and articles.

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Trump pleaded not guilty earlier this month to 37 counts related to the alleged mishandling of classified documents kept at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

It remains to be seen whether a jury will find this to be “smoking gun” evidence. Trump could argue that he was just boasting or cracking jokes since there was frequent laughter in the room. He would also presumably maintain that “these were newspaper stories, magazine stories, and articles,” as he did in the Baier interview.

CNN did not explain where they got this recording—is the Department of Justice continuing its leaky ways? So far, CNN has not said.

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