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Classified document Trump admitted he had on tape is now missing, report says

Document reportedly concerned potential attack on Iran

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Friday 02 June 2023 18:14 BST
Trump plays down legal threat of secret papers recording

Donald Trump’s attorneys have been unable to find the classified document described in a recording of a 2021 conversation that is now in the possession of prosecutors, CNN reports.

Earlier this week, the network broke the news that a recording existed of the former president acknowledging that he had held onto a classified Pentagon document outlining a potential attack on Iran.

Citing two sources, CNN now reports that attorneys for Mr Trump could not find the document he referred to when they turned over material in mid-March in response to a federal subpoena relating to the investigation.

Prosecutors sought “any and all” documents and materials related to Mark Milley, Mr Trump’s chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Iran, including maps or invasion plans, the sources say.

Another subpoena was sent to at least one other attendee of the recorded meeting at Bedminster, New Jersey, in July 2021, another source told the network.

Prosecutors reportedly made it clear that they wanted the specific document referred to in the recording after they had issued the subpoena, as well as any other material referencing classified documents still in the possession of the former president.

The report adds credence to prosecutors’ scepticism that all classified materials retained by Mr Trump after he left office have been returned.

Dozens of documents of varying classification levels were retrieved from the former president’s home at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida when the FBI searched the premises in August 2022.

The recording of Mr Trump was created during the summer of 2021, approximately six months after the ex-president had left office.

It reportedly captures a discussion during which Mr Trump was reacting to the publication of a story in The New Yorker regarding how Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley took actions to ensure the outgoing president issued no illegal orders.

In the article, journalist Susan Glasser reported that Mr Milley was concerned that Mr Trump “might set in motion a full-scale conflict that was not justified” by ordering military action against Iran.

The former president was reportedly recorded as he waved a document and said it would undermine what Mr Milley had said if he could legally show it to anyone.

CNN reported that the audio recording contains the sound of paper rustling as if Mr Trump was waving a document around. The recording also reportedly captured laughter after the ex-president noted that he was not permitted to show the document to anyone.

The July 2021 meeting took place long before Mr Trump’s aides sent 15 boxes of records from his Florida home to the National Archives.

That January 2022 transfer of documents led Archives officials to discover multiple classified documents among the records sent back from Mr Trump’s residence, leading the agency to notify the Department of Justice about the discovery.

The Justice Department’s probe into Mr Trump’s alleged unlawful retention of national defence information is being overseen by a special prosecutor, Jack Smith.

Mr Smith has reportedly obtained other evidence which shows Mr Trump made efforts to obstruct the investigation by concealing documents from the government, even after he was served a grand jury subpoena compelling him to return all classified documents in his possession.

The investigation is reportedly in its final stages and could result in charges against Mr Trump as soon as this summer.

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