US prosecutors have reportedly obtained a recording in which the ex-president acknowledges a document on a potential attack against Tehran
Former US President Donald Trump has admitted to retaining a classified document on a potential attack against Iran, CNN reported on Wednesday, citing an audio recording obtained by federal prosecutors investigating his alleged mishandling of state secrets.
Trump commented on the July 2021 recording that he would like to share the information, but he was aware of limitations on his ability to declassify documents after leaving office, CNN said, citing unidentified people familiar with the investigation. The discussion of the proposed Iran attack took up about two minutes on a recording of a much longer meeting.
The meeting has emerged as a key piece of evidence in the criminal investigation of Trump’s handling of classified materials by US Special Counsel Jack Smith, CNN said. The outlet added that its staffers did not listen to the recording and relied on their anonymous sources to describe it.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) is probing possible crimes related to Trump’s removal of documents from the White House when he left office in January 2021. FBI agents seized more than 100 documents during a raid of his residence at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida last August. The former president has claimed that the materials in question were “automatically declassified” when he took them. He also has accused the DOJ of illegally leaking information from its investigation.
Prosecutors have asked witnesses about the audio recording during testimony before a federal grand jury, CNN said. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley is among the people whom investigators have questioned about the incident.
The meeting reportedly occurred at Trump’s Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club and included two people working on an autobiography about former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. The attendees, including Trump communications aide Margo Martin, lacked the required security clearances to have access to classified information, according to the report.
The Meadows book includes a reference to what appears to be the same meeting, during which Trump “recalls a four-page report typed up by Mark Milley himself” on the general’s plans for attacking Iran, CNN said. The plans called for deploying “massive numbers” of troops. The outlet added that according to its sources, Milley didn’t produce the document.
Trump is currently polling as the leading Republican candidate in the 2024 presidential race. He has seen a surge in voter support since he was indicted last month in New York City on criminal charges of falsifying business records.