Former President Donald Trump is speaking out against CNN’s release of audio it obtained of him speaking with associates at his Bedminster golf club in July 2021 about a military document concerning Iran, saying the report exonerates him in the federal charges he is facing in connection to classified documents kept at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
“The Deranged Special Prosecutor, Jack Smith, working in conjunction with the DOJ & FBI, illegally leaked and ‘spun’ a tape and transcript of me which is actually an exoneration, rather than what they would have you believe,” Trump said on his Truth Social page Monday night after the audio aired on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360.”
“This continuing Witch Hunt is another ELECTION INTERFERENCE Scam. They are cheaters and thugs!” he wrote.
The recording included details from a conversation special counsel Jack Smith used in his indictment accusing the former president of mishandling classified information, as well as some commentary that was not included in the indictment.
The network has not said how it obtained the recording, and Smith’s office and the Department of Justice have not commented on the leak.
The tape was said to have come from a July 2021 interview Trump gave to people who were working on the memoir of Mark Meadows, his former chief of staff. According to Smith’s indictment, a writer, a publisher, and two of Trump’s staff members were present and shown classified information about a plan of attack on Iran.
At the time, Trump was reportedly angry about an article from the New Yorker concerning arguments that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley had made against a strike on Iran, and his concerns that Trump would escalate the situation.
Smith’s office declined to comment to CNN about the audio release, but Trump’s campaign spokesman, Steven Cheung, said in a statement that the tape “provides context proving, once again, that President Trump did nothing wrong at all.”
Trump further railed against the indictment against him and about Smith early Tuesday, posting in an all-caps message on Truth Social a call for someone to “please explain to the deranged, Trump-hating Jack Smith, his family, and his friends, that as president of the United States, I come under the Presidential Records Act, as affirmed by the Clinton socks case, not by this psychos’ fantasy of the never used before Espionage Act of 1917.”
He added that “Smith should be looking at crooked Joe Bidden [sic] and all of the crimes that he has perpetrated on the American public, including the millions & millions of dollars he extorted from foreign countries!”
Most of the audio’s contents include conversation included in Smith’s indictment but also include the sounds of papers being shuffled.
In the tape, Trump is also heard saying that he has 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.
“This was done by the military and given to me,” Trump continues, before noting that the document remained classified.
“See as president I could have declassified it,” Trump says. “Now I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret.”
“Now we have a problem,” a staffer responds, to which Trump is heard saying, “Isn’t that interesting.”
In the indictment, there are ellipses in places where the recording shows Trump and his aide talking about Clinton’s emails and her former aide Anthony Weiner, whose laptop led the CIA to reopen its investigation into her handling of classified information before the 2016 presidential election.
Last week, during an interview with Fox News’s Bret Baier, Trump denied having classified documents with him during the meeting, reports The New York Times.
“That was a massive amount of papers and everything else talking about Iran and other things. And it may have been held up or may not, but that was not a document. I didn’t have a document per se,” he said. “There was nothing to declassify. These were newspaper stories, magazine stories, and articles.”
The audio release comes as the information continues to grow concerning President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Last week, photos of Hunter Biden on his abandoned laptop show him at his father’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, on the day he included his father’s name in a 2017 WhatsApp message to threaten a Chinese business associate.
The investigation is also continuing into allegations that several members of the president’s family were receiving bank transfer payments from foreign entities, with the House Oversight Committee, led by Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., investigating alleged influence peddling schemes by Joe Biden and his family.