Former President Donald Trump, who is facing dozens of federal counts over his alleged mishandling of classified documents, has refuted one of these accusations during a Fox News interview on Monday.
The charges against Trump have been brought by special counsel Jack Smith last month and include 37 counts that could potentially lead to decades in prison if found guilty.
The Department of Justice alleges that two instances occurred at Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey where he shared classified documents with individuals lacking the necessary security clearance.
CNN reported that federal prosecutors had obtained an audio recording of a summer 2021 meeting with Trump discussing the document which he argued was declassified.
Trump refuted this accusation during his Fox News interview, claiming he never showed anyone the U.S. military plan referred to in the audio recording. He also expressed outrage over how his private conversations were leaked to the media and called it “illegal” and “outrageous” for someone to record him without permission.
But this denial from Trump did not stop ABC News from reporting on other charges such as “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, [and] false statements and representations.”
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.
During the meeting, the 45th president said he found the Army general’s “plan of attack.” But he denied ordering Milley to create such a plan and said it was a misconception.
“I never ordered that to happen, no,” Trump told the Fox News anchor.
During the discussion, Baier brought up a concern about Trump’s description of a document as “secret,” which appeared to contradict his previous claims of having declassified all relevant materials. Trump clarified that his remark referred to his restricted authority to declassify documents once his presidency concluded. He further explained that the confidential nature of the source materials he possessed was the reason behind their classification as secret.
“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.”
Trump attorney Christina Bobb told Newsmax last week that Trump had the authority to declassify documents at will while in the White House under the Presidential Records Act and could do so literally at will.
“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.