‘This Is Secret… Look’: Trump Admits on Tape He Didn’t Declassify Documents

In an audio recording that is reportedly in the possession of federal prosecutors, former President Donald Trump admits he did not declassify secret military documents that he took from the White House after losing reelection and failing to overturn the results.

CNN obtained a transcript of the recording that shows the former president said, “As president, I could have declassified, but now I can’t.”

According to CNN, Trump was referring to a “classified Pentagon document about attacking Iran.” Citing several unnamed sources, the outlet reported that the audio tape “captures the sound of paper rustling, as if Trump was waving the document around, though is not clear if it was the actual Iran document.”

“Secret. This is secret information. Look, look at this,” Trump says in the recording, the transcript shows. “This was done by the military and given to me.”

Fresh details on the contents of the recording, the existence of which CNN first reported last week, came hours after news broke that Trump has been indicted by a federal grand jury on seven criminal charges stemming from the classified documents case. The federal charges reportedly include willful retention of military secrets and obstruction of justice.

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti argued that Trump’s comments on the audio tape, as reported by CNN, appear to be damning for the former president, who has repeatedly said he “declassified everything.”

“This is as close to a recorded confession as you’ll ever see in a case like this,” Mariotti wrote on Twitter.

Noah Bookbinder, president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, added that the transcript is “absolutely devastating.”

“Just blows a hole in the defenses Trump had been putting out,” Bookbinder tweeted.

CNN reported that in the taped meeting, which took place in July 2021 at the former president’s New Jersey golf club, Trump was “complaining… about chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.”

The meeting, reportedly attended by Trump aides and two unnamed people working on the autobiography of Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows, “occurred shortly after The New Yorker published a story by Susan Glasser detailing how, in the final days of Trump’s presidency, Milley instructed the Joint Chiefs to ensure Trump issued no illegal orders and that he be informed if there was any concern,” according to CNN.

“He said that I wanted to attack Iran,” Trump says of Milley in the recording. “Isn’t that amazing? 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. We looked at some. This was him. This wasn’t done by me, this was him.”

Glasser reported that “Milley had been engaged in an alarmed effort to ensure that Trump did not embark on a military conflict with Iran as part of his quixotic campaign to overturn the results of the 2020 election and remain in power.”

“The chairman secretly feared that Trump would insist on launching a strike on Iranian interests that could set off a full-blown war,” Glasser wrote.

In the audio tape, according to CNN, Trump tells his aides and others at the July 2021 meeting that he has “all sorts of stuff—pages long.” The FBI seized nearly 200,000 pages from Trump’s Florida residence during an August 2022 raid.

“Wait a minute, let’s see here,” Trump continues. “I just found, isn’t that amazing? This totally wins my case, you know. Except it is like, highly confidential. Secret. This is secret information. Look, look at this.”


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