In a new CNN scoop, the network is reporting that investigators probing the discovery of classified government documents kept in Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club after his presidency have an audio recording of a summer 2021 meeting in which Donald Trump referred to a classified document relating to a possible military attack on Iran.
That could be blockbuster evidence in special counsel Jack Smith's investigation of the documents Trump removed from the White House, because CNN's sources claim that Trump clearly referred to the document as classified, undercutting Trump's already sketchy claims that those documents were "declassified" merely by his retention of them.
The recording indicates Trump understood he retained classified material after leaving the White House, according to multiple sources familiar with the investigation. On the recording, Trump’s comments suggest he would like to share the information but he’s aware of limitations on his ability post-presidency to declassify records, two of the sources said.
That would be the ball game. If Trump is indeed caught on tape acknowledging that the document in his possession was never declassified, thus limiting his ability to "share" it, it eliminates any Trump defense claiming he believed otherwise. At the time of the FBI's search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence, Trump both knew he had classified government documents in his possession and attempted to hide those documents from investigators by claiming they did not exist and moving them after the government informed him they were seeking them.
The recording would cleanly prove that this isn't a case of a government official accidentally misplacing classified documents or forgetting to return them to the government. Trump is said to have asserted that he had a specific document, asserted it was a classified document, and acknowledged that he no longer had a supposed ability to "declassify" that document after leaving the White House.
CNN reports that prosecutors have asked witnesses about the recorded meeting during testimony to a grand jury, and that Gen. Mark Milley has been among those questioned.