Trump Was Recorded Saying He Knew He Had a Classified Document

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The recording, confirmed by a idiosyncratic briefed connected the matter, is expected to beryllium a captious portion of grounds successful the lawsuit against him that the peculiar counsel Jack Smith brought this week.

Mr. Trump speaking astatine  CPAC successful  Dallas successful  July 2021. That month, helium  told radical   helping his erstwhile  White House main  of unit   with a publication  that a papers  helium  had successful  beforehand   of him was “classified” and “highly confidential,” according to a idiosyncratic   briefed connected  the matter.
Credit...Cooper Neill for The New York Times

Maggie Haberman

  • June 9, 2023Updated 10:11 a.m. ET

Former President Donald J. Trump declared astatine a gathering successful July 2021, six months aft leaving the White House, that a papers successful beforehand of him was “classified” and “highly confidential,” according to a idiosyncratic briefed connected the matter.

That meeting, with radical helping his erstwhile main of unit with a book, has been antecedently reported but caller details of Mr. Trump’s circumstantial comments look to show explicitly that helium was alert that materials helium had taken with him from the White House included classified information. The signaling is expected to beryllium a cardinal portion of grounds successful the lawsuit against him that the peculiar counsel Jack Smith brought this week, with 7 counts related to his possession of reams of classified material.

Mr. Trump besides indicated helium couldn’t amusement the papers to the radical successful beforehand of him — galore if not each of whom didn’t person information clearances that would let them to spot delicate authorities worldly — and added, “As president, I could person declassified them, present I can’t,” according to the idiosyncratic briefed connected the matter, who was not authorized to sermon the substance publicly.

Mr. Trump past said the papers was “classified,” and a pistillate successful the country replied, “Now we person a problem,” according to the idiosyncratic acquainted with the recording.

Many details of what is said connected the signaling were reported earlier by CNN, which besides archetypal reported connected the beingness of the recording.

A spokesperson for Mr. Trump did not instantly respond to an email astir the caller information.

The gathering took spot successful July 2021, by which clip officials astatine the National Archives had already spent astatine slightest 2 months pressing Mr. Trump’s representatives connected returning documents they believed helium had successful his possession.

The transcript demonstrates that Mr. Trump was not lone alert helium had delicate material, but had it with him astatine his nine astatine Bedminster, N.J., wherever the gathering took place, and that helium knew helium nary longer had the powerfulness to declassify material.

Mr. Trump’s gathering was with 2 radical helping Mark Meadows, the erstwhile main of staff, with a memoir astir his tenure successful the White House. Aides to Mr. Trump besides attended.

At the time, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the president of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, whom Mr. Trump had appointed, had been a taxable of aggregate media portraits describing him arsenic pressing backmost against an erratic president successful the last months of the presidency.

Mr. Trump went connected a teardrop astir General Milley.

“Isn’t it amazing, I person a large heap of papers,” Mr. Trump said astatine 1 point. Papers could beryllium heard rustling, and past Mr. Trump began appearing to constituent to a circumstantial document, saying, “Look, this was him.” At different constituent helium said, “This was the Defense Department and him.”

He described thing successful beforehand of him arsenic “like, highly confidential,” and maintained it was truly General Milley who wanted to attack Iran (in fact, General Milley cautioned against specified a move).

At 1 constituent Mr. Trump was interrupted, and a pistillate successful the country could beryllium heard connected the signaling referencing Hillary Clinton, the erstwhile caput of authorities whose email server Mr. Trump utilized arsenic an onslaught enactment during the 2016 statesmanlike campaign. Mr. Trump said Mrs. Clinton would nonstop worldly “to Anthony Weiner, that pervert,” referring to the erstwhile congressman who was joined to an adjutant to Mrs. Clinton.

Mr. Trump and his allies person repeatedly asserted that, portion inactive successful office, helium had declassified each the worldly helium took with him from the White House (though the charges may not trust connected whether thing was classified). But his assertion appeared to beryllium undercut by the recording.

“As president, I could person declassified them, present I can’t,” Mr. Trump was recorded saying, according to the idiosyncratic acquainted with its contents. He past reiterated thing was “classified” arsenic helium and 1 of the women successful the country talked implicit each other, according to the idiosyncratic acquainted with its contents.

“Isn’t that interesting? It’s truthful cool,” Mr. Trump said, adding, “You astir apt astir didn’t judge me, but present you judge me.”

Maggie Haberman is simply a elder governmental analogous and the writer of “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America.” She was portion of a squad that won a Pulitzer Prize successful 2018 for reporting connected President Trump’s advisers and their connections to Russia. @maggieNYT

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