Former President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that a recording of him speaking about sensitive military documents was simply “bravery” and claimed he was not displaying anything secret when he said on the tape that he was with bypass “strictly confidential” and “secret information”. in front of the guests.
Trump made the comments to Semafor and ABC News a day after CNN first aired a shocking two-minute clip of him at a 2021 meeting in Bedminster, New Jersey, where people were working on the memoir of his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows. In the audio recording, the former president can be heard describing a document prepared by General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during Trump’s presidency, regarding possible attacks on Iran.
“Look. That was him. They presented that to me — that’s confidential, but — they presented that to me. That was him. That was the Department of Defense and him,” Trump said of the papers he showed. “All sorts Stuff, for pages. Let’s see… Isn’t that amazing? This totally wins my case, you know, except it’s top-secret, secret, secret information.”
Trump told reporters on board his plane on Tuesday that those comments weren’t scathing, but were actually just his signature bluster.
“I would say it was bravery, if you want to know the truth, it was bravery,” Trump told Semafor and ABC News. “I was talking and just holding up papers and talking about it, but I had no documents. I had no documents.”
“I just held up a whole stack of papers — my desk is full of papers,” he added. “I have papers for 25 different things.”
However, the audio clip released this week appears to show that Trump knew the documents he handled during the 2021 meeting were confidential.
“Look, as President, I could have declassified it,” Trump said in the clip. “Now I can’t, you know, but that’s still a secret.”
The former president has faced a series of defenses in the wake of investigations into his conduct after taking office. Trump has claimed that after leaving office he was allowed to take anything he wanted with him and that he had standing orders to declassify anything removed from the Oval Office during his tenure.
On Monday, he added that the audio clip was “actually an exculpation,” attacking prosecutors and calling the investigation another witch hunt.
The recording is key evidence in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s case about the former president’s handling of classified files after he left the White House and is one of two conversations prosecutors reference in their indictment.
Trump was charged with 37 felonies this month. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.