Donald Trump provided a novel new explanation for, and even reenacted, a bombshell recording in which the former president is allegedly heard sharing top-secret classified documents with guests at his Bedminster golf club.After assuring Fox News that he did “nothing wrong,” Trump claimed to Semafor and ABC News that the documents he referred to as “highly confidential” and “secret information” were not even classified as top secret. “I would say it was bravado, if you want to know the truth,” Trump said in an interview with the media aboard his aircraft. “I was talking while holding up papers and referring to them, but I had none. I didn’t have any documents.” Trump asserted that instead of producing the actual classified documents, he merely displayed a stack of papers on his desk. I have papers from twenty-five distinct activities.” Later, pointing to a stack of documents, including speeches and printouts, Trump recounted the incident to reporters, adding that he has “no regrets.” “I didn’t have a classified document. There was no classified document on my desk.”
The former president’s latest remarks suggested a new potential legal argument: that he exaggerated the material he was showing to an aide and people working on a biography of former chief of staff Mark Meadows in the recording, a transcript of which was heavily featured in his recent federal indictment.
“I just held up a whole pile of — my desk is loaded up with papers. I have papers from twenty-five different subjects,” he said, adding that he kept pertinent news articles on Iran on hand.
At one point, Trump pointed to the seat next to him on the aircraft, where a stack of newspapers, copies of his speech, and article printouts were located. He took some from the stack and placed them in front of him, moving them around as he spoke and providing a physical demonstration of what he claimed was happening on the audio tape.
When asked about his use of the word “plans” during an interview with Fox News on Tuesday, Trump insisted he was referring to “building plans” and golf course plans scattered across his desk.
He asked, “Did I use the word plans?” “I’m referring to periodicals, newspapers, and building blueprints. I had construction designs. What about construction plans? I intended to build a golf course.”
Trump responded “no” when asked if he had any regrets regarding his management of classified documents.
“No, I have no regrets,” he said. “I lacked access to a classified document. There was nothing classified on my desk.”
When asked if the audio would affect whether he contemplates a plea bargain, Trump expressed confidence that the government’s use of the Espionage Act to prosecute him would fail and repeated unsubstantiated allegations against President Biden before ending the interview.