CNN says it has obtained an audio recording of a 2021 meeting in New Jersey in which former President Donald Trump discusses the contents of secret documents.
The recording, broadcast on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” includes a moment when Trump seems to indicate he was holding a document regarding possible military action against Iran, according to the report.
Bloomberg has not been able to independently verify the authenticity of the recording in the CNN report.
In the federal indictment against Trump handed up earlier this month, prosecutors said the former president had been recorded during a July 2021 meeting at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, talking about a military “plan of attack” document that was “highly confidential” and “secret.” The government accused him of showing it to other attendees who lacked the required security clearance to see it.
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“The audio tape provides context proving, once again, that President Trump did nothing wrong at all,” said Steven Cheung, a Trump spokesman. “The media and the Trump-haters once again were all too willing to take the bait, falling for another Democrat-DOJ hoax, hook, line, and sinker.”
In the two-minute audio recording, Trump and his aides also joke about Hillary Clinton’s emails after the former president says that the document was “secret information.”
“Hillary would print that out all the time, you know. Her private emails,” Trump’s staffer said.
“No, she’d send it to Anthony Weiner,” Trump responded, referring to the former Democratic congressman, prompting laughter in the room.
Trump’s statements on the audio recording, saying “these are the papers” and referring to something he calls “highly confidential” and seems to be showing others in the room, could undercut the former president’s claims in an interview last week with Fox News’ Bret Baier that he did not have any documents with him.
“There was no document. That was a massive amount of papers and everything else talking about Iran and other things,” Trump said on Fox. “And it may have been held up or may not, but that was not a document. I didn’t have a document, per se. There was nothing to declassify. These were newspaper stories, magazine stories and articles.”
Trump pleaded not guilty earlier this month to 37 counts related to the alleged mishandling of classified documents kept at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
‘I have a big pile of papers, this thing just came up’
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.”
The indictment includes ellipses where the recording obtained by CNN shows where Trump and his aide begin talking about Clinton’s emails and Weiner, whose laptop caused the FBI to briefly re-open its investigation into her handling of classified information in the days before the 2016 election she lost to Trump.
Trump then returns to the Iran document, according to the audio recording and indictment transcript.
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