Trump Owns Having Classified Document on Recording: Report

Former president also reportedly mentions limitations on his ability to declassify records
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 1, 2023 7:21 AM CDT
Trump Owns Having Classified Document on Recording: Report
Former President Donald Trump speaks at his Mar-a-Lago estate Tuesday, April 4, 2023, in Palm Beach, Fla.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Federal prosecutors have obtained a 2021 recording in which former President Trump speaks of having kept a classified military document about a potential attack on Iran after leaving the White House, while noting that it is secret and that he hadn't declassified it, according to CNN and the New York Times. During a July 2021 meeting related to a memoir Trump's former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, was writing, Trump reportedly referenced a document he had with him, which had been compiled by Gen. Mark Milley, his chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, amid the sound of rustling paper.

Meadows references this document in his book. "The president recalls a four-page report typed up by Mark Milley himself," he wrote. "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." Some sources say the document wasn't actually written by Milley and predates his term as JCS chairman. But it's Trump's comments—recorded by an aide who routinely taped Trump's interviews that summer to help with the writing of books about him—that serve as the key piece of evidence for investigators probing whether he broke the law through his handling of classified material, per the Times.

Trump has claimed he "automatically" declassified documents he took with him after leaving office "just by thinking about it." But the recording seems to undermine that heavily scrutinized claim. According to CNN, Trump suggests he wants to share the information to dispute a media report that claimed Milley sought to prevent Trump from entering an unjustified "full-scale conflict" in his final days in office, but can't due to limitations on his ability to declassify records. Others who attended the meeting at Trump's golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, did not have clearance to access classified information, per CNN. (More Donald Trump stories.)

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