In response to the leaked recording, which showed him waving around “strictly confidential” documents he admitted had not released, he told Fox News he had done “nothing wrong,” and on Tuesday ranted that the conservative cable giants are “fake news”.
CNN obtained a tape of a 2021 meeting between Trump and several people working on the memoir of Mark Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff. In the recording, which matches evidence in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s indictment against Trump for misappropriating confidential documents, the ex-president indicated that he was in possession of classified defense documents regarding an Iran attack plan.
“These are the papers,” Trump said on the tape. “Look, as President, I could have declassified it. Now I can’t, you know, but that’s still a secret.”
Trump confirmed to his staff and guests that the documents remained confidential, adding, “It’s so cool.”
The recording refutes what Trump claimed in an irritated interview with Fox News host Bret Baier last week. “There was no document. “It was a huge amount of papers and everything else that talked about Iran and other things,” the former president insisted to Baier. “And it may or may not have been stopped, but that wasn’t a document. I didn’t have a document per se. There was nothing to declassify. These were newspaper stories, magazine stories and articles.”
On Tuesday, Trump was asked by a Fox News reporter how he reconciled his previous comments to Baier with what the audio reveals. In Trump fashion, the ex-president praised himself and claimed the whole affair was fabricated.
“I said it very clearly — I had a whole desk full of papers, mostly newspaper articles, copies of magazines, copies of various plans, copies of stories that had to do with many, many subjects, and what was said was absolute.” “Good,” Trump scolded. “We didn’t do anything wrong. This is a complete hoax.”
Repeating his claims of the “perfect phone call,” he continued, “My voice was fine. What did I say wrong on these recordings? I didn’t even see the recording. All I know is that I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Of course, as he’s currently in the midst of his never-ending love-hate relationship with Fox, he had to give the network his favorite slur for media channels he doesn’t like.
“We had a lot of papers, a lot of papers piled up,” he explained. “You can actually hear the rustling of the paper. And no one said I did anything wrong except for the fake news, and so does Fox.”
Trump then shrugged off the possibility of additional recordings, affirming, “I’m doing nothing wrong” because “I’m a legitimate person.” (In a Truth Social post Monday night, Trump also announced that the tape was “actually an exoneration” while raging that this “ongoing witch hunt is another voter fraud scam.”)
After already fuming at Baier that Fox News was “hostile,” Trump later ran to far-right competitor Newsmax to further complain about how “nasty” and unfair the network had been towards him. He also reiterated that he is unlikely to attend the GOP’s first presidential debate in 2024, which Baier and Fox News host Martha MacCallum will moderate.
“When I did the interview with Bret I thought it was fine. I thought it was fine,” he told Newsmax anchor Eric Bolling on Monday. “But there was nothing friendly about it. You know it was bad and I thought I did a good job. I get credit for doing a good job.”
He was also unhappy that Baier didn’t happily join him in trying to “make America great again,” lamenting that “everything was rude” and there were “no smiles.”