New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman says a 2021 audio recording of former President Trump discussing a classified Pentagon document he took from the White House is the “most damning” evidence yet in the Justice Department’s (DOJ) probe of Trump’s document handling.
“This tape is — multiple sources have described it as very problematic for Trump. Now, again, you know, this investigation is still ongoing,” Haberman said on “CNN This Morning.” “We don’t know where it’s going to end up. But of all of the evidence that we know of, this is the most damning I’ve heard of.”
“And it reminds us there’s so much we don’t know about what prosecutors have,” she added.
CNN first reported on the recording Thursday. It allegedly includes Trump’s comments at a July 2021 meeting at Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, N.J., about a document that details a potential U.S. attack on Iran.
According to the report, Trump suggests in the recording that he not show the document to two people working on an autobiography of his former chief of staff Mark Meadows because they did not have security clearances.
Haberman, who’s covered the former president extensively, said the news of the audio recording is “very meaningful” and “a big deal.” The recording, as reported, indicates that Trump understood he was holding on to classified material past the end of his White House tenure.
“Again, I haven’t heard the tape; no one has yet. But our reporting is also that Trump says something about the limits of his classification abilities,” Haberman said on CNN. “You know, he expresses some regret about not having declassified this particular thing while he was president.”
“That undermines the excuse that they have made over and over again that he had this ability — that he automatically declassified everything,” she added.
Investigators are probing whether the former president failed or refused to comply with government requests for certain records to be returned after the end of his presidency, as is required under the Presidential Records Act.