Former President Donald Trump made new revelations about a 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 that 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, Trump said that he never showed anyone the classified U.S. military plan referred to in the audio recording to anyone.
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.
Per the indictment, at the meeting, Trump said he found Milley’s “plan of attack.” But he denied ordering Milley to create such a plan and said it was a misconception.
“I never ordered that to happen, no,” Trump told the Fox News anchor.
Veterans of Trump’s administration have gone public to say the “secret plan” of attack against Iran that Trump allegedly showed off in the summer of 2021 never actually existed.
“As part of the 44-page indictment unsealed June 9 against the 77-year-old Trump and his valet Walt Nauta, prosecutors led by special counsel Jack Smith recounted a conversation the 45th president had with a writer, a publisher and two members of his staff, during which Trump discussed a strategy to attack Iran he said was authored by Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” the New York Post reported
Ric Grenell, who served as Trump’s acting director of national intelligence, and Kash Patel, former chief of staff to Trump’s last acting secretary of defense, told The Post slammed the fact that the document was not listed among the 31 sensitive papers Trump was actually charged with retaining.
In other words, if Trump was showing off an alleged classified document, why did Special Counsel Jack Smith not charge him for doing so?
“Without getting into grand jury details, basically, I was like, ‘OK, show me the document you guys are referring to,’” Patel told The Post. “And they were like, ‘No, you should know which document.’ I’m like, ‘No, you’re the government, you show me.’ [Then prosecutors said,] ‘Oh, we don’t have it.’”
“I’ve been through that game with these guys before. And it doesn’t surprise me that they don’t have it,” he added.
Patel said the laughter in the audio suggests he was joking about having an Iran attack plan at all.
If you listen to Trump and have been in any meetings with him, which I’ve been in probably 100, he constantly jokes and brings levity even to the more serious situations to deliver his point and put people at ease,” he said. “And in the audio, he’s literally laughing and like ruffling papers.”
Grenell indicated that the former president was actually leafing through printed pages from the New Yorker piece even though he “wasn’t in the room” and doesn’t know what other materials Trump possessed.
“The fact that in the indictment there’s no talk of this document to me proves that the president in the audio recording is clearly talking about the New Yorker story, because the New Yorker story came out right before they did this interview,” he said. “And the New Yorker story was a fire in the hole for the credibility of the Trump administration’s claim that we were not starting new wars.”