Trump Turns Mar-a-Lago Documents Case Upside Down With Power Move

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.

Former President Donald Trump made new revelations about a supposed “secret document” he discussed on an audio recording at the center of the federal government’s indictment earlier this month.

Special counsel Jack Smith charged Trump with 37 counts related to his handling of classified documents. If he is found guilty on all counts, Trump — who is President Joe Biden’s chief rival in next year’s presidential election — could face decades in prison.

According to the indictment, Trump allegedly showed classified documents to a number of people who did not have the proper security clearances on at least two separate occasions. The DOJ alleges that both instances took place at Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, N.J.

Details regarding one of the alleged instances were leaked to CNN.

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The network reported on June 2 that federal prosecutors had “obtained an audio recording of a summer 2021 meeting in which former President Donald Trump acknowledges he held onto a classified Pentagon document about a potential attack on Iran, multiple sources told CNN, undercutting his argument that he declassified everything.”

The charges “include willful retention of national defense information, conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding a document or record, corruptly concealing a document or record, concealing a document in a federal investigation, a scheme to conceal, and false statements and representations,” ABC News reported.

But in a wide-ranging Fox News interview with Bret Baier on Monday, Trump said that he never showed anyone the classified U.S. military plan referred to in the audio recording to anyone.

The Epoch Times reports:

Trump insisted that he never showed any classified military plan to attack Iran prepared by General Mark Milley, then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Trump says he never ordered the plan.

The meeting occurred on July 21, 2021, approximately six months after Trump’s presidency ended, at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. The meeting involved a writer, publisher, and two aides of the former president, and centered around a forthcoming book authored by Mark Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff.

“There was no document,” Trump told Baier. 

“That was a massive amount of papers and everything else talking about Iran and other things,” he continued. “And it may have been held up or may not, but that was not a document. I didn’t have a document, per se. There was nothing to declassify. These were newspaper stories, magazine stories, and articles,” he explained.

Per the indictment, at the meeting, Trump said he found Milley’s “plan of attack.” But he denied ordering Milley to create such a plan and said it was a misconception.

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“I never ordered that to happen, no,” Trump told the Fox News anchor.

Baier raised a question regarding Trump’s use of the term “secret” to characterize a document, which seemed to conflict with his earlier assertions of having declassified all pertinent materials. Trump clarified that his statement was in relation to his limited authority to declassify documents after his presidency ended and that the confidentiality of the source materials he possessed was the reason for their secrecy.

“What I said, that I couldn’t declassify now, that’s because I wasn’t president,” Trump said. “I’d never made any bones about that. When I’m not president, I can’t declassify.”

But by that point, the media had already reported on the classified information, which is what Trump said he was referring to in the audio recording.

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In an interview with Newsmax last week, Trump attorney Christina Bobb noted that Trump had the authority to declassify documents at will while in the White House under the Presidential Records Act.

“Donald Trump was 100% authorized to keep everything he kept. And it was actually the Department of Justice that actually had to return materials because they took things they were not allowed to possess and had to return them,” she said.

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