federal prosecutor there is a recording Former President Donald J. Trump discusses highly classified documents he possessed after leaving office, showing the importance of the evidence Special Counsel Jack Smith is gathering toward deciding whether to file criminal charges. reveals sexuality.
The recording captured Trump discussing documents he said related to his military plans to confront Iran in July 2021, according to people briefed on the content. During the meeting, Trump said he could not declassify the documents because he was no longer in office.
If this account of the recording turns out to be correct, Trump’s lawyers are careful not to confirm or deny it, but Trump’s advisers justify why he was allowed to be detained. It would undermine one of the key defenses it has offered to do so. After leaving the White House, he came face-to-face with some of the government’s most top-secret secrets. They claim that while Trump was still in office, they declassified all materials he brought with him when he left office.
It will also show in his own voice that Trump is citing classified government documents to settle the deal. In this case, he was refuting what was perceived as criticism from General Mark A. Milley, Trump’s appointment as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The exact content of the documents Trump referred to during the taped meeting remains unclear. It’s also unclear when or if the federal government recovered thousands of pages of documents Trump took with him when he moved out of the White House in violation of the Presidential Records Act. The act makes all presidential records the property of the federal government.
However, recordings showing that he knew he had unclassified materials, and that they touched on highly sensitive national security issues, were classified by federal authorities. It could be strong evidence that he knew he shouldn’t have kept it, even though it was enhanced. Efforts to reclaim what he took away.
Federal prosecutors under Mr Smith’s office will investigate whether Mr Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, has obstructed government efforts and whether he has violated other laws governing the handling of defense intelligence and government documents. are investigating.Mr. Smith also directed Parallel research It influenced Trump’s efforts to stay in office after his 2020 poll loss.
After months of back and forth with the National Archives, Trump finally handed over 15 boxes of documents last January. It turned out that nearly 200 of his classified documents were among them.
Later, after a subpoena seeking the return of other classified material in his possession, he gave the Justice Department some 30 additional documents and a letter from his lawyer He said an intensive search found nothing more.
Then, in August, an FBI agent obtained a search warrant, Plunged into Mar-a-Lagocarried off his residence and club in Florida, and an additional boxful of materials, including over 100 additional classified documents.
The taped meeting took place more than a year before the search, and Trump and his last chief of staff, Mark Meadows, were helping write a book in progress, according to three people familiar with the meeting. It was done between two people. A handful of Trump aides were also present, including Margo Martin, who regularly attended and recorded interviews for books Trump had given him permission to do.
Martin was subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury to hear evidence in the case in March. A person familiar with the matter said investigators had recorded the meeting before Martin’s appearance in court. According to this source, her device was summoned after her appearance.
Some of Trump’s own advisers are aware of the recording’s existence and have been waiting for it to be released since Trump took office. CNN’s Town Hall event in MayIn it, when asked directly if he had shown classified documents to people after leaving the White House, he gave a vague answer. “No,” Trump said.
In an interview with CNN Wednesday, Trump’s lawyers continued to say they had declassified documents that Trump’s clients had taken out of the White House and could prove it.
But even attorney James Trusty declined to say whether Trump declassified the documents he brandished at a July 2021 meeting at a private club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
In a separate interview with CNN on Thursday, Timothy Perlatore, an attorney who recently left Trump’s team, downplayed the legal significance of the Bedminster case, saying Trump had the documents because he was the president. He suggested it was due to a “procedural failure” in the election. he left the White House.
Parratore said the question of whether the documents were declassified is irrelevant because Trump is being investigated for “deliberate retention of defense information” under a statute that does not rely on classification.
“I don’t know anything about it,” Trump said during a Town Hall interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday night, when asked about reports of the recording.
In the summer of 2021, Trump was outraged by General Millie’s high-profile role in books and magazine articles. General Millie was portrayed as: last line of defense Against an increasingly volatile and belligerent president during the final months of his term. In the tape, Trump fired back at General Milley, according to people familiar with the matter. He suggested that the dangerous warmonger was General Millie, not General Millie himself. He suggested that General Milley had documents showing that he wanted war with Iran.
Former senior administration officials involved in Mr. Trump’s Iran deliberations said General Milley usually urged restraint on Iran. They said they were not aware of any documents drafted by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that matched statements Trump suggested.
The former officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity about the sensitive debate, describe the deterrence options Trump has been presented with as he weighs how to counter Iran, ranging from fairly mild to extremely aggressive. said that he may have mentioned the outline of .
Smith and his team have investigated the document case from multiple angles, including investigating whether there is a relationship between the documents. Documents obtained by Mr. Trump and dealings with foreign countries. they are are also scrutinizing Whether his employees tried to sabotage government attempts to obtain surveillance camera footage from Mar-a-Lago.
But the existence of the recording raises new questions, such as what role Mr. Meadows played in providing information to investigators, and highlights the extraordinary sensitivity of the materials Mr. Trump had access to when he left office. .
For months, Meadows has been a source of suspicion and frustration among some of Trump’s circles. Trump was outraged by Meadows’ memoir. revealed intimate details Meadows then handed thousands of private text messages to the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th Capitol shootings, stripping out only their content and giving investigators a kind of roadmap. provided. He believed he was protected by executive privilege.
But so far, Meadows’ publicly known role in Trump-related investigations has been to claim various kinds of privileges and participate in a broader effort to limit the scope of grand juries investigating former bosses. was mostly limited to
Meadows’ attorney, George Terwilliger, declined to comment.