A former U.S. attorney has criticized the leak of an audio file during which former President Donald Trump appeared to be discussing and handling a highly classified document in his possession, allegedly with individuals who did not have a security clearance.
Francey Hakes, a former assistant United States attorney, told Newsmax on Wednesday the leak was done in a way to appear as though Trump was saying “there was nothing to declassify” in some of the sensitive files he had in his possession at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
“Lawyers know that there’s always more to a tape,” Hakes explained. “There’s context to the tape. There’s possible editing of the tape. There’s the authenticity of the tape. All of these things have to be established before they can be admitted into evidence.”
“This is like trial by ambush, where you got someone who is obviously trying once again to put the evidence out there before it has a chance to get into a court of law to make the president look bad,” she told host Greta Van Susteren.
But she diverted from Trump, who claims the audio actually exonerates him, by saying it “sounds inculpatory rather than exculpatory.”
“This continuing Witch Hunt is another ELECTION INTERFERENCE Scam,” Trump posted on his social media platform Truth Social. “They are cheaters and thugs!”
Last week, Trump made new revelations about the supposed “secret document” he discussed on an audio recording at the center of the federal government’s indictment earlier this month.
Special counsel Jack Smith charged Trump with 37 counts related to his handling of classified documents. If he is found guilty on all counts, Trump — who is President Joe Biden’s chief rival in next year’s presidential election — could face decades in prison.
According to the indictment, Trump allegedly showed classified documents to a number of people who did not have the proper security clearances on at least two separate occasions. The DOJ alleges th at both instances took place at Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, N.J.
Details regarding one of the alleged instances were leaked to CNN.
The network reported on June 2 that federal prosecutors had “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 charges “include willful retention of national defense information, conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding a document or record, corruptly concealing a document or record, concealing a document in a federal investigation, a scheme to conceal, and false statements and representations,” ABC News reported.
But in a wide-ranging Fox News interview with Bret Baier on Monday, Trump said that he never showed anyone the classified U.S. military plan referred to in the audio recording to anyone.
The Epoch Times reports:
Trump insisted that he never showed any classified military plan to attack Iran prepared by General Mark Milley, then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Trump says he never ordered the plan.
The meeting occurred on July 21, 2021, approximately six months after Trump’s presidency ended, at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. The meeting involved a writer, publisher, and two aides of the former president and centered around a forthcoming book authored by Mark Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff.
“There was no document,” Trump told Baier. “That was a massive amount of papers and everything else talking about Iran and other things,” he continued.
“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,” he explained.