Another leak of evidence in the Biden Justice Department’s classified documents case against President Trump took place on Monday with CNN airing a July 2021 recording of Trump talking about attack plans on Iran drawn up by Gen. Milley while waving a sheaf of papers. In the recording, Trump can be heard getting in a dig about Hillary Clinton and Anthony Weiner regarding her private email server scandal. Descriptions of the tape were previously leaked to CNN.
Special Counsel Jack Smith has made the audio recording part of his Espionage Act case against Trump.
The recording obtained by CNN begins with Trump claiming “these are bad sick people,” while his staffer claims there had been a “coup” against Trump.
“Like when Milley is talking about, ‘Oh you’re going to try to do a coup.’ No, they were trying to do that before you even were sworn in,” the staffer says, according to the audio.
The next part of the conversation is mostly included in the indictment, though the audio makes clear there are papers shuffling as Trump tells those in attendance he has an example to show.
“He said that I wanted to attack Iran, Isn’t it amazing?” Trump says as the sound of papers shuffling can be heard. “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.”
…“I was just thinking, because we were talking about it. And you know, he said, ‘He wanted to attack Iran, and what…,’ ” Trump says.
“These are the papers,” Trump continues, according to the audio file.
The Trump audio:
“See as president I could have declassified it. Now I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret.”
“Now we have a problem,” a staffer responds. pic.twitter.com/ftNqOTnfZn
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) June 27, 2023
Trump spoke about the recorded conversation in an interview with Bret Baier on Fox News last week:
There’s a lot going on here and this is going to reviewed: Trump on the recording of him pic.twitter.com/JpohMqb2Li
— Acyn (@Acyn) June 19, 2023
Trump, but apparently not the Biden Justice Department, is under court orders to not disclose evidence that is part of the trial (Axios excerpt):
Former President Trump and his legal team cannot keep nor publicly disclose any federal evidence in the classified documents case against him, a federal judge in Florida ruled Monday.
Why it matters: Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart’s order against the former president and co-defendant Walt Nauta, a Trump aide, which also limits their access to material, is a victory for special counsel Jack Smith, who requested it to prevent sensitive details being revealed during the discovery process when prosecutors present the defense with evidence.
The order warns any violations could result in criminal contempt charges.
Background on the tape from the first leak to CNN (excerpt):
Federal prosecutors have obtained an audio recording of a summer 2021 meeting in which former President Donald Trump acknowledges he held onto a classified Pentagon document about a potential attack on Iran, multiple sources told CNN, undercutting his argument that he declassified everything.
The recording indicates Trump understood he retained classified material after leaving the White House, according to multiple sources familiar with the investigation. On the recording, Trump’s comments suggest he would like to share the information but he’s aware of limitations on his ability post-presidency to declassify records, two of the sources said.
The July 2021 meeting was held at Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, with two people working on the autobiography of Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows as well as aides employed by the former president, including communications specialist Margo Martin. The attendees, sources said, did not have security clearances that would allow them access to classified information. Meadows didn’t attend the meeting, sources said.
Meadows’ autobiography includes an account of what appears to be the same meeting, during which Trump “recalls a four-page report typed up by (Trump’s former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) Mark Milley himself. It contained the general’s own plan to attack Iran, deploying massive numbers of troops, something he urged President Trump to do more than once during his presidency.”
Reportedly, the document at issue was not found in the FBI SWAT raid on Mar-a-Lago last August, nor in a later search by Trump’s lawyers in March in response to a subpoena.