Per a Wednesday report from CNN, federal prosecutors working on the classified documents investigation now led by Special Counsel Jack Smith have taken possession of a recording that reveals Trump talking about holding onto classified materials — and acknowledging what he evidently characterized as a still existent classification status — after leaving office.
Per available information, the context was a discussion about Mark Milley, a military official. Trump was reportedly upset about revelations surrounding Milley’s apparent concern after Trump’s 2020 election loss and interest in stopping potentially dangerous scenarios hinging on Donald’s then-continuing access to presidential power. Allegedly, the document to which Trump refers on the recording contained details on a hypothetical plan of attack against Iran. An allegation in Trump’s circles has been that Milley himself promoted such an idea. That claim appears in a book by former top official Mark Meadows — and it also happens that people working on that book were present for the discussion where Trump allegedly made these remarks.
The recording could make prosecutors able to conclusively prove Trump knowingly took classified materials and knew he was violating federal standards in his handling of the documents. Even just in other circumstances, news reports have indicated an evident suspicion from prosecutors that Trump eventually did show some of these sensitive materials to people — which, when coupled with this newly revealed recording, would in general seem to brazenly indicate a knowing violation of federal rules. As for the documents in general, it’s difficult to sustain the idea Trump thought he could just hang onto protected materials if he was openly acknowledging at least some of the limits, meaning the rules regarding how such documents can be shown to third parties.
Notably, reports also recently said prosecutors in an entirely different case also have a recording of Trump. That’s in his criminal case in Manhattan tied to the hush money for Stormy Daniels. Fewer details are publicly available about what is contained on that other recording. Trump will stand trial in March 2024, right amid election season.