Trump described Pentagon ‘plan of attack’ and shared classified military map with PAC member, indictment shows

Former president showed member of political action committee ‘a classified map related to a military operation and told the representative that he should not be showing it,’ indictment states

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Saturday 10 June 2023 16:07 BST
Related video: Why has Donald Trump been indicted again?

Donald Trump described a “plan of attack” devised by the Pentagon and shared a classified military map with a member of his political action committee who didn’t have a security clearance, the 37-count indictment against the former president shows.

The indictment, unsealed on Friday afternoon, stems from Mr Trump’s allegedly unlawful retention of hundreds of documents at his Florida residence Mar-a-Lago.

Trump aide Walt Nauta has also been charged after he was apparently spotted on surveillance footage moving boxes at the property. The ex-president stands accused of having moved classified documents from the White House at the end of his presidency despite not having the right to do so.

Mr Trump showed classified documents to others twice in 2021, the legal filing states.

According to the indictment, “In July 2021, at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey (‘The Bedminster Club’), during an audio-recorded meeting with a writer, a publisher, and two members of his staff, none of whom possessed a security clearance, TRUMP showed and described a ‘plan of attack’ that TRUMP said was prepared for him by the Department of Defense and a senior military official”.

“TRUMP told the individuals that the plan was ‘highly confidential’ and ‘secret.’ TRUMP also said, ‘as president I could have declassified it,’ and, ‘Now I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret’,” the filing says.

“In August or September 2021, at The Bedminster Club, TRUMP showed a representative of his political action committee who did not possess a security clearance a classified map related to a military operation and told the representative that he should not be showing it to the representative and that the representative should not get too close,” the indictment also states.

Photo of document boxes in Former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence released by US Justice Department as part of the indictment
Photo of document boxes in Former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence released by US Justice Department as part of the indictment (US Justice Department)

The legal filing notes that Mar-a-Lago wasn’t approved for the storage of classified documents but Mr Trump still “stored his boxes containing classified documents in various locations at The Mar-a-Lago Club-including in a ballroom, a bathroom and shower, an office space, his bedroom, and a storage room”.

The 49-page indictment includes 38 counts against Mr Trump and Mr Nauta, a former US Navy noncommissioned officer who left his government job to work for Mr Trump at the end of his time in the White House.

A transcript of the 2021 tape was revealed by CNN on Friday morning, hours after news emerged that Mr Trump had been indicted.

In the tape, first reported last week, he specifically referenced a classified Department of Defense document regarding an attack on Iran, according to the transcript.

It was reported last week that prosecutors had procured the audio recording, which was made in 2021 at Mr Trump’s Bedminster, New Jersey, resort with two individuals working on the autobiography of Mr Trump’s final White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in addition to aides to the former president, such as Marco Martin, a communications staffer.

The transcript implies that Mr Trump is showing the document he’s speaking about during the conversation.

Photo of document boxes in Former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence released by US Justice Department as part of the indictment
Photo of document boxes in Former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence released by US Justice Department as part of the indictment (US Justice Department)

CNN reported that several sources have said that the sound from the recording includes the rustling of papers, indicating that Mr Trump may have been moving the document around. But it’s not clear if it was the document regarding Iran.

“Secret. This is secret information. Look, look at this,” Mr Trump said. “This was done by the military and given to me.”

At the time, Mr Trump was complaining about the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley. The meeting took place not long after a story published by The New Yorker outlined how Gen Milley told the Joint Chiefs during the last days of Mr Trump’s time in office to make sure that the then-president not give any illegal orders and that Gen Milley should be made aware if there were any concerns.

“Well, with Milley – uh, let me see that, I’ll show you an example. He said that I wanted to attack Iran. Isn’t that amazing? I have a big pile of papers, this thing just came up. Look. This was him,” Mr Trump said, the transcript shows. “They presented me this – this is off the record, but – they presented me this. This was him. This was the Defense Department and him. We looked at some. This was him. This wasn’t done by me, this was him.”

Photo of document boxes in Former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence released by US Justice Department as part of the indictment
Photo of document boxes in Former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence released by US Justice Department as part of the indictment (US Justice Department)

“All sorts of stuff – pages long, look. Wait a minute, let’s see here. I just found, isn’t that amazing? This totally wins my case, you know. Except it is like, highly confidential. Secret. This is secret information. Look, look at this,” Mr Trump added.

“Secret” and “confidential” are both degrees of classified information.

Special Counsel Jack Smith has led the federal probe into Mr Trump’s handling of classified information and his obstruction of the investigation. Mr Trump’s attorney said the 45th president was summoned by the Department of Justice to appear in court on Tuesday in Miami.

Mr Smith is also investigating Mr Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election. Mr Smith was appointed in November to lead the Department of Justice’s documents and election probes by Attorney General Merrick Garland.

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