In an audio recording recently obtained by NBC News, Donald Trump appears to discuss a sensitive military document and acknowledges he did not declassify it when he was president, consistent with a partial transcript federal prosecutors included in his indictment this month.
Trump has claimed in interviews after his indictment that he was not in possession of the document when he was talking. The indictment of Trump and his aide Walt Nauta included a partial transcript that redacted some names.
In the 2021 recording, which was first reported by CNN and then obtained by NBC News, Trump is heard talking with an author, a publisher and two Trump staffers at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
In the recording, Trump discusses a document he describes as a “plan of attack” given to him by Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to attack Iran. Trump then says the document includes "secret information."
“I have a big pile of papers,” Trump says in the recording as he discusses the plan amid the sound of shuffling papers. "They presented me this. This is off the record. But they presented me this. This was him. This was the Defense Department and him."
“Isn’t that amazing?” Trump says, adding that the information at hand was "highly confidential."
The special counsel's office declined to comment on the recording.
In an interview last week, Trump told Fox News’ Bret Baier: “I didn’t have a document, per se. There was nothing to declassify. These were newspaper stories, magazine stories and articles.”
A spokesperson for the Trump campaign insisted the recording proved Trump did nothing wrong.
"The audio tape provides context proving, once again, that President Trump did nothing wrong at all," the spokesperson said in a statement.
He added that Trump was "speaking rhetorically" and also "humorously" about former Rep. Anthony Weiner and Hillary Clinton.
"The media and the Trump-haters once again were all too willing to take the bait, falling for another Democrat-DOJ hoax, hook, line, and sinker.”
In the recording, Trump says the document is "secret information," and the unidentified woman replies, "Hillary would print that out all the time, you know?" It appeared to be a reference to allegations that Clinton had classified information on a private email server when she was secretary of state.
Trump responds on the recording, "She’d send it to Anthony Weiner," a reference that some of her emails were on a laptop owned by Weiner, a former congressman who had been married to one of Clinton's top aides.
Trump, on his social media platform Truth Social, made unsupported claims late Monday that investigators “leaked” the tape. CNN has not said how it obtained the audio.
On Tuesday, Trump took a different approach by saying in an interview that "it was bravado" when he was showing papers to people in the room in Bedminster.
"I would say it was bravado, if you want to know the truth. It was bravado," he told Semafor and ABC News aboard his plane.
“I was talking and just holding up papers and talking about them, but I had no documents," he added.
Asked about his earlier reference to "plans" in the papers, Trump insisted he was talking about other materials.
“What I’m referring to is magazines, newspapers, plans of buildings. I had plans of buildings. You know, building plans? I had plans of a golf course.”
A federal grand jury indicted Trump in Florida this month on charges that he kept classified documents he was not entitled to have and that he misled investigators to hold on to sensitive materials he knew were still classified.
He is charged with 37 counts, which include 31 counts of willful retention of national defense information, as well as other counts that include conspiracy to obstruct justice.
He pleaded not guilty June 13.
Trump was also charged in state court in New York City in connection with hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels. He has pleaded not guilty in that case, as well.