That tape of Trump bragging about a classified document is 'great evidence' against him, says a federal prosecutor turned high-end defense attorney

Documents seized during the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago
This image contained in a court filing by the Department of Justice on Aug. 30, 2022, and redacted by in part by the FBI, shows a photo of documents seized during the Aug. 8 search by the FBI of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.Department of Justice via AP
  • Trump was indicted Thursday night over allegations of hoarding government records.

  • A recording reported on by CNN and others looks like "great evidence," says a former prosecutor.

  • That's because it shows Trump's awareness of what he was doing.

As former President Donald Trump faces an unprecedented indictment over allegations of hoarding government records, a tape obtained by CNN is emerging as a potentially crucial piece of evidence.

Ken White, a former federal prosecutor turned high-end defense attorney, told Insider that he views this tape as "great evidence" against Trump.

The tape in question captures a 2021 conversation at Trump's Bedminster resort, where he discusses retaining a classified document. "As president, I could have declassified, but now I can't," Trump says, according to reports on the transcript.

Trump was speaking about a classified Pentagon document regarding potential military action against Iran, CNN reported. He was giving an interview to the ghostwriter working on an autobiography of Trump's former chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

The indictment, the first of its kind against a current or former president in U.S. history, could prove a landmark case for the Justice Department, challenging its capacity to navigate the politically charged inquiry into Trump's retention of classified documents post-presidency.

Critical to the case, according to White, is the element of "willfulness." This means that the prosecution must demonstrate that Trump knowingly and intentionally broke the law keeping so many classified documents from his presidency in boxes at Mar-A-Lago.

White believes that the tape could provide vital evidence of Trump's awareness of the document's classified status, directly contradicting his public claims of being able to declassify documents "by thinking about it."

White also talked about the tape during a Wednesday episode of his "Serious Trouble" podcast with Josh Barro.

"The reports are that the discussion on tape reflects him saying that these are still classified, I can't show them to people, things like that. It would tend to rebut Trump's belief stated in public that he can declassify things with his mind or that they automatically declassified when he walks away with them in his pocket," White said.

In a series of Tweets Friday morning, CBS News correspondent Robert Costa reported that Trump spent the early days of his post-presidency fuming about what he saw as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley's attempt to burnish his reputation at Trump's expense. To make his case to visitors at Mar-a-Lago, Costa wrote, Trump would dig into sheafs of documents that he claimed proved him right. "Sometimes aides & visitors weren't even sure if what Trump was talking about on national security or military matters was true or if docs Trump mentioned existed, sources recalled," Costa wrote. "But Trump seemed to talk a lot about Milley and his own view of what really happened on that front."

The indictment comes as a major development in the ongoing investigations against Trump, which have put Attorney General Merrick Garland in the spotlight as he seeks to restore the Justice Department's independence. Trump, who has announced his intention to return to the White House, is scheduled to appear in federal court in Miami on Tuesday afternoon.

The charges against Trump also extend beyond the federal investigation, with a second pending criminal case from the Manhattan District Attorney's office alleging that he falsified business records related to payments to Stormy Daniels.

Read the original article on Insider