Trump returns to National Archives a classified document he denied was real
(CNN) — The top-secret document that former President Donald Trump discussed at a 2021 meeting at his New Jersey golf club was included in the 15 boxes returned to the National Archives in January of last year, according to a source familiar with the matter. But Trump has denied it was real.
Trump was charged Thursday with retaining the classified document, described as a “presentation concerning military activity in a foreign country,” which CNN has reported is Iran, as part of the superseding indictment. He had previously been charged with retaining 31 other documents. The Iran war plan document, however, stands out as the only one from the 15 boxes Trump initially returned – before any subpoena was issued or search was conducted – that has led to any criminal charge.
In the new court filing, the document is described as having been in Trump’s possession from the day he left the White House in 2021 until January 17, 2022, the same date Trump is said to have returned boxes to the National Archives after many months of requests to do so.
While the July 2021 Bedminster meeting was described in the original indictment, prosecutors did not say at the time whether they had located the document Trump was allegedly showing. The new charge makes clear they have the document and believe the former president had it in his possession at the time of the meeting at which he discussed it with people not cleared to view classified material. An audio recording of the meeting first aired by CNN captures a moment when Trump seems to indicate that he is holding a secret Pentagon document with plans to attack Iran.
“These are the papers,” Trump says in the recording.
Trump has denied that the papers he showed at the meeting included a classified government document, claiming he had referred only to news articles.
“There was no document,” Trump told Fox News on June 19. “That was a massive amount of papers and everything else talking about Iran and other things. 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.”
Trump’s attorneys previously said they were unable to find the document. They also told CNN that Trump and his staff did not review in advance materials in the boxes the former president returned to the Archives and have not been told what documents were recovered from Mar-a-Lago.