WASHINGTON — Justice Department prosecutors have obtained an audio recording of former President Donald Trump from after he left office in which he talks about holding onto a classified Pentagon document related to a potential attack on Iran, according to media reports.
CNN first reported that Trump suggested on the recording that he wanted to share with others information from the document but that he knew there were limitations about his ability to declassify records after he left office.
The comments on the recording, made in July 2021 at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, undercut the former president’s repeated claims that he declassified the documents he took with him from the White House to Mar-a-Lago, his Florida estate, after leaving office. The recording could also be a key aid for prosecutors looking to prove Trump knew his ability to possess classified documents was limited.
The recording has been provided to special counsel Jack Smith, whose team of prosecutors have spent months investigating the potential mishandling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago and whether Trump or anyone else sought to criminally obstruct the probe. The investigation shows signs of being in its final stages, with prosecutors having interviewed a broad cross-section of witnesses before the grand jury.
No one has been criminally charged.
According to the CNN report, the recording was made during a gathering at Bedminster with aides to Trump and two people who were working on the autobiography of his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows.
It said Meadows’ autobiography includes a description of what appears to be the same meeting. A lawyer for Meadows declined to comment Wednesday when reached by The Associated Press.
CNN said witnesses including Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have been questioned about the document. A spokesman for Milley declined to comment.
A spokesman for the special counsel declined to comment.
A Trump spokesman said in a statement that the investigation was “meritless” and amounted to “continued interference in the presidential election.”