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Trump’s lawyers have not found the document he mentions in the audio

Trump’s lawyers have not found the document he mentions in the audio

(CNN) — Donald Trump’s lawyers handed over materials in mid-March in response to a federal subpoena related to a classified U.S. military document described by the former president in 2021, but have not been able to locate the document, two sources told CNN.

Prosecutors issued the subpoena shortly after a Trump adviser was questioned before a federal grand jury about an audio recording of a July 2021 meeting at Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey. In the recording, Trump admitted that the Pentagon had a secret document that suggested an attack on Iran.

According to the sources, Trump’s Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley and Iran-related documents and materials were searched “one by one,” including lawyers, maps or invasion plans. According to another CNN source, a similar subpoena was sent to an attendee at the meeting.

Sources say prosecutors have made it clear to Trump’s lawyers that they want any material that refers to classified information, such as the Iran dossier and any meeting notes, audio recordings or transcripts Trump spoke of. That document may still be in Trump’s possession.

The Trump team’s failure to turn over the document underscores the challenges the government has faced in trying to recover classified material Trump took with him when he left the White House and in understanding the movement of government records held by Trump.

During the Justice Department’s investigation, prosecutors expressed doubts about the return of all classified documents. At various points in 2022, the federal government retrieved dozens of documents containing Trump’s classified trademarks.

The special counsel’s office complained to a federal judge late last year that even after the FBI raided Mar-a-Lake last August, it could not confirm that Trump had turned over all the classified documents he had. reported.

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The dispute led to several sealed court proceedings in which lawyers tried to hold Trump in contempt, but the judge refused at the time and Trump’s team hired two people to search his assets.

The Justice Department declined to comment.

It’s unclear whether the government already has a copy of the Iran document from boxes returned to the National Archives by Trump’s legal team last year or was recovered in a subsequent raid by the FBI.

Trump’s lawyers have said the former president and his staff did not pre-screen items from the boxes the former president returned to the archives and were not told what documents were recovered from Mar-a-Lago.

Trump’s lawyers won’t have full access to classified documents seized during the FBI raids, and only recently were they able to see the boxes returned to the Trump archives in January 2022 that replaced the classified documents returned in those cases. boxes.

The document cited by Trump in the recording was created before Milley was appointed chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, CNN reported, and Milley was later interviewed by investigators.

The sources could not say whether Trump was carrying the document in question when he discussed it at the 2021 meeting or was simply referring to it.

The tape, first published by CNN, is in the hands of special counsel Jack Smith, who is leading the Justice Department’s investigation into Trump. In recent months, Smith has focused on the meeting as part of a year-long criminal investigation into the former president’s handling of national security secrets.

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The audio of Trump admitting he has the classified document undermines Trump’s repeated claims that it described everything he took with him from the White House when he left office.

Trump said Thursday that he knew nothing about the 2021 summer meeting and called the Justice Department investigation a “witch hunt” and an attempt to meddle in the 2024 presidential election.

“I don’t know anything about it,” Trump said during the Fox News forum. “I have the right to be classified as president.”

Bedminster’s meeting with Trump was attended by Trump aides and two people working on a biography of Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows. That autobiography includes an account of what appeared to be the same meeting, in which Trump recalled a report “typed up” by Milley that contained a plan to attack Iran.

The subpoenas were issued immediately after Trump adviser Marco Martin, who attended the meeting, appeared before a grand jury in the Smith investigation and was questioned about it.

That’s when Trump’s legal team discovered the records were with prosecutors.

The Justice Department had access to a version of the record before Martin’s grand jury appearance in March, according to a source. Martin’s lawyer declined to comment.

After receiving Trump’s subpoena, his legal team spoke with his advisers and gathered materials in response to the subpoena, including transcripts of recordings made by Trump’s advisers and other documents referring to Milli or Iran, according to the sources.

The legal team has been unable to locate the document Trump refers to in the memo, sources said, and it’s unclear whether it was ever returned to the government or where it is now.

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Trump’s lawyer, Jim Trusty, declined to tell CNN this week whether the document was ever returned to the National Archives.