New Tape Recording Provides Evidence of Trump Discussing ‘Secret’ Document

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Former President Donald J. Trump denies accusations that he held classified documents illegally while serving as president. The audio recording from a meeting that took place in July 2021 was key evidence in the indictment against Trump for holding onto 31 sensitive government documents, some of which were highly classified and included information about U.S. nuclear and military capabilities. Jack Smith, a special counsel appointed by the Justice Department, filed the indictment in Federal District Court in Miami.

During the meeting, which was recorded by at least two people in attendance, Trump referred to “secret” information in his possession, but denies that he had a classified document with him. On the recording, Trump can be heard flipping through papers as he talks to a publisher and writer working on a book by his final White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows. According to the transcript, Trump describes the document, which he claims shows General Milley’s desire to attack Iran, as “secret” and “like, highly confidential.” He also declares that “as president, I could have declassified it,” adding, “Now I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret.”

In an interview with Fox News anchor Bret Baier, Trump denies that he was referring to an actual document and claims to have simply been referring to news clippings and magazine pieces. He insists that “There was no document,” and that the pile of papers he referred to were “newspaper stories, magazine stories, and articles.” Trump also claimed that he did not immediately comply with an earlier request to return government records to the archives because he was “very busy.”

Trump’s alleged possession of classified material has been a subject of investigation, with prosecutors claiming that he was “personally involved in this process.” His lawyers wrote a letter to Congress stating that his staff “quickly packed everything into boxes and shipped them to Florida,” leaving the impression that Trump himself did not go through the material and was unaware of what was in the boxes when they were packed. However, Trump indicated in his interview with Baier that he did sort through some boxes after they were sent from Washington to Mar-a-Lago, his private club and residence in Florida.

Despite the ongoing investigation, Trump remains the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination for 2024. His allies have offered evolving explanations for his possession of classified material and repeated refusals to return it, with Trump insisting that the documents all belonged to him as personal records. The indictment against him contradicts that claim, with prosecutors saying that Trump caused his boxes, containing hundreds of classified documents, to be transported from the White House to the Mar-a-Lago club. While Trump denies holding classified documents, the investigation continues, and more information may surface in the coming months.

Read More of this Story at www.nytimes.com – 2023-06-20 00:45:35

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