The recently uncovered audio of former President Donald Trump admitting that he had a classified Pentagon document in his possession after leaving office could be “evidentiary gold” for prosecutors, according to legal analyst Glenn Kirschner.
Trump’s legal prospects in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case were rocked on Wednesday after CNN reported about the existence of a potentially damning tape from July 2021. In it, Trump allegedly discussed being in possession of a classified Pentagon document regarding a hypothetical attack on Iran. The former president also acknowledged on the tape that he was unable to discuss the contents of the material because it was classified and said that he cannot declassify it as he was no longer president.
The tape appeared to blow massive holes in various defensive arguments Trump had made in the documents case, indicating that he knew he had retained classified material after leaving office and that he had not declassified it before the end of his presidency. The tape is now reportedly in the hands of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and special counsel Jack Smith, who is overseeing all federal investigations into Trump. The former president’s team has also since claimed that the document referenced in the tape cannot be located.
Meanwhile in a statement to Newsweek on Wednesday, a Trump spokesperson said that CNN’s report about the recording was based on “leaks from radical partisans” who want “to inflame tensions and continue the media’s harassment of President Trump and his supporters.”
Kirschner is a former federal prosecutor with decades of experience and now serves as a legal analyst specializing in the various cases facing Trump. Using his background, he has frequently discussed the value of certain findings and developments in the hands of prosecutors building cases against the former president. During a Saturday appearance on MSNBC, Kirschner told host Jonathan Capehart that the tape could be “evidentiary gold” before a jury.
“When you can present to the jury the crime being committed or being discussed by the very person on trial, who’s sitting across the courtroom from the jury, it’s evidentiary gold,” Kirschner said. “And most importantly, when you can take two audio recordings or two video recordings, one with Donald Trump saying ‘I declassified everything with my mind,’ or ‘It was automatically declassified when I took it with me from the White House,’ and you can immediately thereafter play an audio recording of him six months after leaving the presidency saying, ‘I’d like to show this to you, but it’s classified,’ jurors get the point.”
“It might feel good to Donald Trump in the moment, saying these things on faux news networks or in town halls. But once prosecutors can surgically present this stuff to a jury, it’s going to be like shooting fish in a barrel.” @glennkirschner2 to @CapehartJ on the #SaturdayShow pic.twitter.com/NuM6UIBRO0
— The Saturday/Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart (@weekendcapehart) June 3, 2023
Recent reports have suggested that federal indictments in the classified documents case could be issued by the DOJ in a matter of days. In spite of the mounting evidence seemingly arrayed against him, Trump has staunchly maintained his innocence, as he has in all of the cases he is currently facing.
In an earlier statement to Newsweek, a Trump spokesman dismissed the legitimacy of Kirschner’s insights, claiming without evidence that they were broadly rejected in the legal community and accusing him of pursuing “clout” by spreading “wild conspiracy theories” about the former president.
Despite his continuing legal troubles, the former president continues to lead his fellow Republican challengers in preliminary polling ahead of the 2024 GOP primary, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who announced his candidacy last week.
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