‘Why Would He Do That?’ CNN’s Abby Phillip Confronts Trump Lawyer Over Bombshell Secret Document Tape


CNN anchor Abby Phillip confronted Trump attorney Jim Trusty over the bombshell recording of ex-President Donald Trump discussing a classified document with people who weren’t authorized to view it — widely seen as evidence Trump knew he possessed classified documents.

CNN broke the news Wednesday afternoon that Trump was caught on tape discussing a classified document that he had taken with him when he left the White House. On the tape, Trump reportedly acknowledges he can’t show the document — which outlines a plan to invade Iran — to his visitors because of the classification attached to it.

On Wednesday night’s edition of CNN Primetime, Phillip and co-anchor Kaitlan Collins interviewed Trusty about the development, and the attorney argued that Trump declassified everything as he left.

But Phillip pressed Trusty on the point, asking him why, even if the declassification argument were valid, Trump would find it appropriate to discuss such a sensitive matter with outsiders:

PHILLIP: I think the record needs to show that you won’t even say whether this document was declassified. And in fact there is a tape that your client has said that the document is still classified.

So, you can make that argument, but only if you are also trying to establish that this document is declassified.

TRUSTY: No. I — I am not going to sit here and dignify leaks that are incomplete, that are unfair, and that are dishonest. This is a leak campaign.

And you guys have the access to somebody from DOJ or FBI. You’re touting the official line that they want you to pursue, because they want to legitimize something that was never criminal. And for no other president has there ever been a document retention issue that’s been treated as a criminal investigation.

PHILLIP: Why — why would former President Trump have a document that seems to pertain to military plans regarding a very significant U.S. adversary, have them in his possession and be discussing them with people who don’t have an appropriate clearance, whether he declassified them or not? Why would he do that?

TRUSTY: You know what’s really fascinating about the leak is DOJ is trying to justify this persecution of the current administration’s leading opposition by saying, oh my God, he had these sensitive materials that he shouldn’t have had, and then they leak to you guys vivid details of a document that they say is classified. I mean, you know, they can’t have their cake and eat it, too.

PHILLIP: I mean, to be fair, these are not vivid– these are not vivid — to be fair, these are not vivid details of the document. Trump is on the video describing the contents of this document to people, biographers of his former chief of staff. So he’s the one doing the describing.

TRUSTY: You just did a piece with Kaitlan that basically vouched for saying these are the details we’re hearing, whether it’s his description or actually seeing the document. What I’m telling you is I’m not trying the case in the media. I’m not going to sit here and address the document as if it’s right or if the videotape exists, or if it’s something that’s really wrong.

This is prosecutorial justice. I’ve been around DOJ for 27 years. I’ve never seen a leak campaign like this ever.

PHILLIP: Were any documents that former President Trump took with him to any of his properties, did any they contain — any of them contain sensitive military plans?

TRUSTY: Yeah. Well, I’m not trying my case in the press. So he would have the right to possess them if he did, but I’m not going to address that.

PHILLIP: He would have — would he have the right to possess them if they were classified documents?


PHILLIP: Because the Presidential Records Act actually says that those documents belong to the federal government.

TRUSTY: No, the Presidential Records Act says once there is a determination of whether something is a presidential record, then it goes to the archivist. All the discretion in the world is with the president himself when he makes that first call. If they disagree, they can sue civilly. That’s — that’s what the litigation says.

PHILLIP: Let me just read the relevant statute for the audience. The United States shall reserve and maintain complete ownership, possession and control of presidential records.

Watch above via CNN Primetime.

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