Recording reveals that Trump took a secret plan to attack Iran from the White House

The recording is incriminating evidence in the investigation into classified documents kept by the former president in his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida

Donald Trump, at a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, last April.
Donald Trump, at a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, last April.BRIAN SNYDER (REUTERS)
Miguel Jiménez

Federal prosecutors have obtained a recording of a meeting in the summer of 2021, in which former U.S. president Donald Trump acknowledges that he kept a classified Pentagon document about a possible attack on Iran, according to a report published Wednesday by CNN. The recording is incriminating evidence against Trump, who has sometimes claimed that he declassified all the documents that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) found during the search of his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach (Florida).

According to the CNN report, which cites multiple sources familiar with the investigation, the recording indicates that Trump was aware that he withheld material classified as confidential after leaving the White House. Trump’s comments suggested that he would like to share the information in the confidential documents, but recognized that his post-presidency ability to declassify records was limited, according to the exclusive.

CNN reported that while its journalists did not hear the recording, multiple sources told them about its content. One of the sources said that the part on the classified document on the plan to attack Iran lasts about two minutes, and another source said that the discussion is a small part of a much longer meeting.

Trump has criticized the news report, without commenting on whether or not the information is true. “All of the Democrat ‘Persecutors’ that are trying to Interfere with the 2024 Presidential Election are leaking constantly, and illegally, about me. Will they be resigning, and will there be an investigation into their leaking? There should be!” he posted on his social media network, Truth Social.

Trump is under investigation for various possible crimes related to the classified documents he took to Mar-a-Lago, after leaving the White House. The recording may be key in the face of a possible indictment in the investigation, which is led by special prosecutor Jack Smith, who was appointed by the Department of Justice.

Trump’s lawyers recently requested a meeting with Attorney General Merrick Garland in connection with Smith’s probes into the former president, according to a letter posted by Trump himself on Truth Social. In it, the lawyers claim that Trump is being treated unfairly by Smith and his team. The special counsel is in charge not only of the investigation into the classified Mar-a-Lago documents, but also into Trump’s efforts to remain in power after being defeated by Joe Biden in the 2020 elections.

According to the CNN report, prosecutors have questioned various witnesses about the recording and the classified document referred to in it before the grand jury in charge of the case. One of the witnesses questioned was General Mark Milley, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, one of the highest-ranking national security positions of the Trump era.

The meeting that was recorded was held in July 2021 at Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, with two people working on the autobiography of former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, as well as aides employed by the former president, including communications specialist Margo Martin, according to CNN, which points out that Meadows talks about what appears to be the same meeting in his book.

According to the autobiography, in that meeting, Trump “recalls a four-page report typed up by Mark Milley himself. It contained the general’s own plan to attack Iran, deploying massive numbers of troops, something he urged President Trump to do more than once during his presidency.”

The meeting took place shortly after The New Yorker published a report claiming that, in the last days of the Trump presidency, Milley instructed military commanders to make sure that Trump was not issuing illegal orders. Milley was also said to have repeatedly argued against attacking Iran and to have been worried about the possibility that Trump could set off an unwarranted large-scale conflict. The article claimed that Milley and other officials convinced Trump not to take such drastic action.

In the taped meeting, Trump tries to respond to The New Yorker report by pointing to the classified document, which he says came from Milley. According to sources, Trump told those in the room that if he could show it to people, it would undermine Milley’s comments as it would allegedly show that the Pentagon was more aggressive and warmongering toward Iran than he was. The military, however, has contingency plans for many hypothetical situations, and a plan itself is not proof that the Pentagon wanted to carry it out. One source says Trump in the recording refers to the document as if it were in front of him, and some say the audio captures the sound of rustling paper, as if Trump was waving the document, though it’s unclear if this was the actual classified document on Iran.


The investigation into the classified papers is moving forward. Last week, The Washington Post revealed that two Trump employees moved boxes of documents out of a storage room in Mar-a-Lago just a day before the Justice Department visited the former president’s residence with a request to collect the classified papers.

According to the newspaper, the investigators believe this points to a possible crime of obstruction of justice. According to The Washington Post, investigators have evidence that the former president kept classified documents in a highly visible place in his office and showed them to other people. The newspaper also reported that Trump and his advisors conducted a “dress rehearsal” to move the documents before they were subpoenaed in May 2022.

Trump, who has been convicted in a civil lawsuit for sexual abuse, is also facing other legal probes. He has been charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records linked to hush money paid during the 2016 presidential elections, including a payment to porn actress Stormy Daniels to cover up an alleged extramarital affair. The trial is set to begin in New York on March 25.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who is investigating whether Trump illegally interfered in Georgia’s 2020 election, has said she plans to announce in the coming months whether she will press charges. Willis has hinted that any possible indictments will be made in August. In a recent letter to county Superior Court Chief Judge Ural Glanville, Willis suggested that he plan for staff to work remotely during the first three weeks of August, and asked that judges not schedule trials and in-person hearings during that time period for safety reasons.

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