‘Oh Lordy, There’s Recordings’ Of Trump Discussing Retaining Still Classified Documents (Updated)

Update to Trump ‘Dress Rehearsal’ For Hiding Classified Documents From His Lawyers And The FBI.

CNN reports, EXCLUSIVE: Trump captured on tape talking about classified document he kept after leaving the White House:

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.

CNN has not listened to the recording, but multiple sources described it. One source said the relevant portion on the Iran document is about two minutes long, and another source said the discussion is a small part of a much longer meeting.

Special counsel Jack Smith, who is leading the Justice Department investigation into Trump, has focused on the meeting as part of the criminal investigation into Trump’s handling of national security secrets. Sources describe the recording as an “important” piece of evidence in a possible case against Trump, who has repeatedly asserted he could retain presidential records and “automatically” declassify documents.

Prosecutors have asked witnesses about the recording and the document before a federal grand jury. The episode has generated enough interest for investigators to have questioned Gen. Mark Milley, one of the highest-ranking Trump-era national security officials, about the incident.

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.”

The document Trump references was not produced by Milley, CNN was told.

Investigators have questioned Milley about the episode in recent months, making him one of the highest-ranking national security officials from Trump’s administration to meet with the special counsel’s team. Milley’s spokesman Dave Butler declined to comment to CNN.

The revelation that the former president and commander-in-chief has been captured on tape discussing a classified document could raise his legal exposure as he continues his third bid for the White House. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.

[W]hen asked at a CNN town hall this month if he showed classified documents he kept after the presidency to anyone, Trump answered: “Not really. I would have the right to. By the way, they were declassified after.”

A lawyer for Meadows declined to comment. A lawyer for Martin declined to comment.

Smith’s investigation has shown signs of nearing its end, though it hasn’t yet resulted in any criminal charges. A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment for this story.

* * *

Trump’s different explanations on the declassified documents

Trump and his attorneys have given several different, often conflicting, explanations for why Trump didn’t intentionally retain classified materials in violation of federal law.

Initially, Trump allies argued he had a “standing declassification order” so that documents removed from the Oval Office were immediately declassified.  A few weeks later, Trump told Fox News that he could declassify things “just by thinking about it.”

Earlier this year, Trump’s legal team told Congress that classified material was inadvertently packed up at the end of the administration. Most recently, Trump told CNN at a town hall that materials were “automatically declassified” when he took them.

However, there’s no indication Trump followed the legally mandated declassification process, and his attorneys have avoided saying so far in court whether Trump declassified records he kept.


UPDATE: Just Security released a model prosecution memo in the Donald Trump classified documents case.

Their conclusion: “There is sufficient evidence to obtain and sustain a conviction here, if the information gleaned from government filings and statements and voluminous public reporting is accurate.”

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3 thoughts on “‘Oh Lordy, There’s Recordings’ Of Trump Discussing Retaining Still Classified Documents (Updated)”

  1. UPDATE: Reading tea leaves … NBC News reports, “Grand jury in Trump classified documents case expected to meet this coming week after hiatus”, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/grand-jury-trump-classified-documents-case-expected-meet-coming-week-h-rcna87599

    The federal grand jury that has been hearing evidence in the Justice Department’s investigation of former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents is expected to meet again this coming week in Washington, according to multiple people familiar with the investigation.

    Prosecutors working for Special Counsel Jack Smith have been presenting the grand jury with evidence and witness testimony for months, but activity appeared to have slowed in recent weeks based on observations at the courthouse and sources.

    It’s unclear whether prosecutors are prepared to seek an indictment at this point. The Justice Department would not comment on the status of the investigation.

  2. “‘This is game over’: Former FBI top lawyer predicts ‘conviction’ of Trump after classified doc tape”, https://www.rawstory.com/trump-documents-classified-indictment-conviction/

    Former FBI general counsel Andrew Weissmann warned that the new tape recording of Donald Trump bragging that he had classified documents that he wanted to show people, if verified, could be the final straw leading to Trump’s conviction.

    If this reporting is true, and I’m trying not to use hyperbole, this is game over,” said Weissmann. “There is no way that he will not be charged. One, it is a tape recording. Even though the reporting is there are also witnesses, so there could be a tape recording with witnesses, it involves not just possession of classified information, but the dissemination of classified information. That puts it into a completely different ballpark when you are at the Department of Justice examining the seriousness of the violation and whether to bring charges.”

    He explained that it also adds another crime, whereas before, it was simply the possession of the documents, refusal to give them over, and obstruction of an investigation. Now, a separate crime would be to disseminate.

    “And it differentiates Joe Biden an Mike Pence,” he continued. Both men were found to have documents, including some classified information. They responded by immediately handing it over. Trump did not. “So from a political perspective, it is huge because there is no evidence this happened with respect to President Biden or former Vice President Pence. The information is not just classified information. It is one of the most sensitive types of classified information, which is war plans involving a potential attack on Iran. So, from every single aspect of this, if this reporting is accurate and there is this tape recording, there will be an indictment and it is hard to see how given all the evidence that we’ve been talking about that there will not be a conviction here. I mean, this is a tape recording.”

    Weissmann went on to list all of the crimes that are involved based on the federal statutes, espionage charges, or a violation of the Espionage Act. Another is that it is a crime to possess national defense information and it is a crime to disseminate it.

    “And here it apparently is shared with people who don’t have clearance to get this information,” he explained. “And again this — this is not like a foot fault. These are war plans given to people who have no clearance to get it. It is hard to imagine — this is their worst nightmare as to what they were thinking would happen with this information which is that Donald Trump was at the very least lax in how he was handling it and it is going to have huge repercussions within the intelligence community in terms of making sure that this is not the only thing that was disseminated.”

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