US media has obtained an audio recording that seems to suggest that Donald Trump acknowledged keeping a classified document after leaving the White House.
In the recording, Trump can be heard going through papers and stating, “This is highly confidential.” CNN was the first to obtain the recording, followed by the BBC’s US partner CBS.
Trump has pleaded not guilty to federal charges related to mishandling sensitive documents. The recording, reportedly from a July 2021 meeting at Trump’s Bedminster golf club, features him referring to the papers as “highly confidential” and mentioning that they were given to him by the military during his presidency.
Although federal prosecutors cited the same recording in their indictment, it is unclear if the mentioned documents were ever recovered. Prosecutors accuse Trump of showing classified documents to individuals without security clearance, including a writer and two staff members.
He faces 37 counts related to retaining classified documents unlawfully and obstructing the government’s retrieval efforts. Despite his repeated denial of any wrongdoing and his claim that all documents taken from the White House were declassified, the published audio recording appears to contradict his statements.
Trump recently denied showing secret documents to unauthorized individuals during the Bedminster meeting, asserting that the papers were primarily newspaper stories, magazine stories, and articles on topics such as Iran. The recording, however, implies that Trump may have been referencing specific files. Trump and his aide, Walt Nauta, who is expected to plead not guilty, were both indicted. The former president’s trial, initially scheduled for August 14, is likely to be postponed pending a judge’s decision on prosecutors’ request to delay it until December 11.