WASHINGTON, May 31 (Reuters) – Federal prosecutors have a 2021 audio recording of former President Donald Trump acknowledging he kept a classified Pentagon document about a possible attack on Iran after leaving the White House, CNN reported on Wednesday.
CNN did not listen to the recording but cited unidentified multiple sources describing it. Reuters was not able to confirm the report.
The recording shows Trump, who is seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, understood he retained classified material after he left the White House in 2021, according to the cable television network.
Trump’s remarks indicated he would like to share the information but was aware of the limitations on his ability to declassify documents after leaving office, two sources told CNN.
Trump has denied wrongdoing. A Trump representative would not comment on the report of the recording or on the specific remarks attributed to Trump and called the investigation politically motivated.
“Leaks from radical partisans behind this political persecution are designed to inflame tensions and continue the media’s harassment of President Trump and his supporters,” Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung said on Wednesday.
Peter Carr, the spokesperson for Special Counsel Jack Smith’s office at the Justice Department, declined to comment.
The Justice Department is investigating whether Trump broke the law by retaining U.S. government records, some marked as top secret, after leaving office in January 2021.
In August, the department disclosed that it was investigating Trump for removing White House records because it believed he illegally held documents including some involving intelligence-gathering and clandestine human sources – among America’s most closely held secrets.
Smith’s probe includes whether Trump or his associates obstructed the Justice Department’s probe into his retention of thousands of government records, about 300 of which were marked classified.
The special counsel is also investigating efforts to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss that culminated in the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Kanishka Singh; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Lisa Shumaker)