Washington Federal investigators have obtained an audio recording of former President Donald Trump admitting he kept a classified Pentagon document after leaving the White House, according to people familiar with the matter.
The recording — from a July 2021 meeting at Trump Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. — is crucial evidence that prosecutors at Special Counsel Jack Smith’s office have obtained in recent months and presented in grand jury proceedings examining the former president’s retention of sensitivity. Records and possible obstruction of the investigation, the people said.
CNN reported it for the first time The existence of the audiotape and the prosecution’s possession of it.
According to two people familiar with the matter, Trump can be heard in the recording acknowledging the memo’s national security limitations because it detailed a possible attack on Iran. The people said it was not clear from the recording whether Trump had the document at the time or was merely describing its contents to at least three people who were present during the meeting. CBS News did not listen to the audio.
One of the people said that Trump acknowledges in the recording that the Iranian document remains classified and that he should have declassified it before leaving the White House.
People confirmed to CBS News that Trump aide Margo Martin and other individuals who were working on a biography of former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows were present at the meeting. The sources said that the former president mentioned the confidential document in the audio recording when he was talking about Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, who According to The New Yorker, They fought in the final days of the Trump administration to prevent the president from attacking Iran.
In recent months, Martin has been seen in the federal courtroom where Smith was conducting a grand jury.
Martin’s attorney has not commented on this report. The special counsel’s office also declined to comment.
Smith and his team are investigating the former president after disclosing classified documents from his tenure in the White House at Trump’s Florida residence, Mar-a-Lago, in August 2022. Prosecutors are also looking into whether there were efforts to obstruct the attempts. to recover records, according to multiple sources close to the investigation.
“The leaks from radical supporters behind this political persecution are intended to inflame tensions and continue media harassment of President Trump and his supporters. It is just further evidence that when it comes to President Trump, there are absolutely no depths they will not dive into,” a Trump spokesperson said in a statement. They continue the witch hunt,” “The Department of Justice’s continued interference in the presidential election is disgraceful and this baseless investigation must stop wasting American taxpayer money on Democrat political goals.”
During a CNN town hall earlier this month, Trump said he was “allowed” to take such documents. In the past he has said he has declassified the records in question, but the audio recording obtained by prosecutors raises questions about his defense.
Grand jury activity and requests for evidence have slowed in recent weeks, sources said, indicating the investigation may be drawing to a close. Several former White House aides and Mar-a-Lago employees — security officials and valets — have been called to testify in secret proceedings in Washington, DC.
Prosecutors gathered evidence that Trump resort employees moved the boxes the day before a June 2022 visit to Mar-a-Lago by the FBI and a federal prosecutor, a source familiar with the matter confirmed to CBS News. Trump’s team was aware of the scheduled visit and held a so-called rehearsal for the visit ahead of schedule, according to the source. This was first reported before Washington Post.
In late 2022, Trump’s attorneys hired a firm to conduct a search for any classified documents remaining on Trump’s properties including the Bedminister.
The July 2021 meeting captured on the recording mirrors an example described in Meadows’ autobiography where Trump showed a 4-page memo to a group meeting at his club in New Jersey.
The special counsel, appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland late last year, is also investigating the former president’s behavior around the Jan. 6 Capitol attack and efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Trump has denied wrongdoing in both cases. Former Vice President Mike Pence, who will announce his 2024 presidential candidacy next week, testified before a grand jury in that investigation earlier this year.