The tape is featured in the new documentary Battleground, directed by Cynthia Lowen, which takes a close look at anti-abortion activists. According to the documentary, the audio was taken during a closed-door meeting between Trump and leaders of the Christian right, 40 days before the 2016 election.
Trump was reported to have met with conservative Christians in June of that year. The audio in the documentary was recorded during a different meeting, on 29 September 2016.
The aim was to discuss how Trump would “fulfill the Christian right’s legislative and cultural priorities,” per Battleground.
Unidentified participants are first heard chatting as they await Trump’s arrival. He then enters the meeting, greets its attendees, and comments: “This is serious power.”
Steve Bannon, then the chief executive officer of Trump’s campaign, tells the participants: “The key that picks the lock to this election is you. Conservatice Catholics and evangelicals who have not voted, who have not been motivated to vote, have to come to the polls. If we don’t win on 8 November, it’s because evangelical and Catholic leaders have not delivered. Your fate is in your own hands.”
Later in the documentary, Robert Jeffress, the Southern Baptist pastor of a megachurch in Dallas, Texas, and a televangelist and Fox News contributor, is heard saying: “There is only one candidate running in this election who is pro-life, pro-religious liberty, pro-conservative justices to the Supreme Court. And there’s only one candidate who treats the views of conservative Christians with respect. And that candidate is Donald Trump.”
Jeffress confirmed the accuracy of the quote and the timing of the meeting in an email to The Independent.
Trump then brings up the Supreme Court and the prospect of appointing multiple justices, stating: “And this president could choose – I mean, it could be five. Probably going to be three. It could very well be four, but it could even be five justices. So you get Hillary Clinton in there, it’s over.”
After acceding to the White House, Trump ended up nominating three Supreme Court justices: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett.
On the audio tape, Trump is then heard announcing: “Here’s my daughter.” Ivanka Trump greets the participants, telling them: “Hello, good morning, everyone! This is a very full, impressive room.”
Her father acquiesces, stating: “These are the most powerful people in the country.” He then tells his daughter: “Go back to work now.”
After Ivanka Trump seemingly leaves the conversation, Eric Metaxas, a conservative Christian radio host and author, tells Trump: “As much as I love your daughter, she got you in trouble on the Planned Parenthood issue, however.”
In response, Trump says “the feeling is that a lot of women are very happy with Planned Parenthood, but because of the fact they perform abortions, I can’t support it. I would defund it.”
Metaxas tells him: “Okay, but unless you hit that very hard, there are many Christians that just don’t believe you.”
During her father’s 2016 campaign, Ivanka Trump obfuscated when asked to share her views on abortion rights. When she was asked whether she supports abortion rights during an interview with Boston Public Radio in February 2016, she said: “I don’t talk about my politics. I don’t feel like it’s my role, and not the candidate’s. I’m the daughter… I don’t think my politics are relevant to the discussion.”
In October 2020, she strengthened her stance, describing herself to Real Clear Politics as “unapologetically” against abortion rights.
The Independent has contacted representatives for Donald Trump and Eric Metaxas for comment.
Battleground is available in select theatres and will be released online beginning 14 October.