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Prosecutors Have Tape of Trump on Docs 06/01 06:17


   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Justice Department prosecutors have obtained an audio 
recording of former President Donald Trump from after he left office in which 
he talks about holding onto a classified Pentagon document related to a 
potential attack on Iran, according to media reports.

   CNN, which first reported on the tape, said Trump suggested on the recording 
that he wanted to share information from the document with others but that he 
knew there were limitations about his ability to declassify records after he 
left office.

   The comments on the recording, made in July 2021 at his golf club in 
Bedminster, New Jersey, would seem to undercut the former president's repeated 
claims that he declassified the documents he took with him from the White House 
to Mar-a-Lago, his Florida estate, after leaving office. The recording could 
also be a key aid for prosecutors looking to prove Trump knew his ability to 
possess classified documents was limited.

   The recording has been provided to special counsel Jack Smith, whose team of 
prosecutors have spent months investigating the potential mishandling of 
classified documents at Mar-a-Lago and whether Trump or anyone else sought to 
criminally obstruct the probe. The investigation shows signs of being in its 
final stages, with prosecutors having interviewed a broad cross-section of 
witnesses before the grand jury.

   No one has been criminally charged.

   The criminal investigation began last year after the National Archives and 
Records Administration alerted the FBI to the presence of classified documents 
in 15 boxes of records sent back, belatedly, from Mar-a-Lago by Trump and his 
representatives. Investigators initially issued a subpoena for remaining 
classified records, but after they received only about three dozen during a 
June 2022 visit to Mar-a-Lago, returned with a search warrant two months later 
and recovered about 100 more documents marked as classified.

   Smith, the special counsel, is also investigating efforts by Trump and his 
allies to undo the results of the 2020 presidential election -- the subject of 
a similar, ongoing inquiry by prosecutors in Atlanta. New York prosecutors 
charged Trump earlier this year with falsifying business records.

   According to the CNN report, the recording was made during a gathering at 
Bedminster with aides to Trump and two people who were working on the 
autobiography of Trump's former chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

   It said Meadows' autobiography includes a description of what appears to be 
the same meeting. A lawyer for Meadows declined to comment Wednesday when 
reached by The Associated Press.

   CNN said witnesses including Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint 
Chiefs of Staff, have been questioned about the episode. A spokesman for Milley 
declined to comment on reports that he had been interviewed.

   A spokesman for the special counsel declined to comment.

   A Trump spokesman said in a statement that the investigation was "meritless" 
and amounted to "continued interference in the presidential election."

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