Trump heard on tape discussing classified document on Iran, reports say

Federal prosecutors reportedly have recording that may prove former president knew of possessing top secret materials

Then-president Donald Trump holds up papers in the White House in 2020, in Washington. AP
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Federal prosecutors have a 2021 audio recording of former president Donald Trump acknowledging he kept a classified Pentagon document regarding Iran after leaving the White House, it was reported on Wednesday.

Mr Trump was discussing a “document about a potential attack on Iran”, CNN reported, citing multiple unidentified sources. CNN did not listen to the recording but heard descriptions of it through sources.

The recording reportedly shows Mr Trump, who is seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, understood he retained classified material after he left the White House in 2021, according to the cable television network.

Mr Trump’s remarks indicated he would like to share the information but was aware of the limitations on his ability to declassify documents after leaving office, two sources told CNN.

The Guardian later corroborated CNN story, with their sources claiming the document had “secret” classification labelling, which may be of interest for the Department of Justice.

The news organisation also reported that the recording was made by a Trump aide.

Mr Trump has denied wrongdoing.

“Leaks from radical partisans behind this political persecution are designed to inflame tensions and continue the media’s harassment of President Trump and his supporters,” Steven Cheung, a spokesman for Mr Trump, told Reuters on Wednesday.

Peter Carr, the spokesman for Special Counsel Jack Smith's office at the Justice Department, declined to comment.

The Justice Department is investigating whether Mr Trump broke the law by retaining US government records, some marked as top secret, after leaving office in January 2021.

In August, the department disclosed that it was investigating Mr Trump for removing White House records because it believed he illegally held documents including some involving intelligence-gathering and clandestine human sources – among America's most closely held secrets.

Mr Smith is looking into whether Mr Trump or his associates obstructed the Justice Department's investigation into his retention of thousands of government records, about 300 of which were marked classified.

Updated: June 01, 2023, 3:42 AM