CONCORD, N.H. – Former President Donald Trump insists that he did ‘nothing wrong’ as he reacted to a leaked recording of him apparently discussing what he described as ‘highly confidential’ documents in his possession post-presidency.
Trump, the commanding front-runner in the latest GOP presidential nomination polls as he runs a third straight time for the White House, argued in a Fox News Digital interview on Tuesday that ‘this is just another hoax.’
‘I would say election interference more than anything else. It’s a disgrace that they can do it,’ Trump said. ‘Everything was fine. We did nothing wrong and everybody knows it.’
Trump was indicted and arraigned this month for his alleged improper retention of classified records. He pleaded not guilty in federal court to criminal charges that he illegally retained national security records at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, following the end of his term in office and that he obstructed federal efforts to recover the documents. In total, Trump faces 37 felony charges.
In an exclusive interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier last week, the former president said ‘there was no document’ and that he was just discussing news clippings.
But an audio recording obtained by CNN appears to show Trump discussing classified materials during a July 2021 meeting at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. The former president is heard saying, ‘These are the papers,’ while he’s apparently discussing top-secret U.S. military attack plans on Iran. Trump said on the tape that the plan came from Pentagon officials.
On the recording, Trump is also heard saying ‘it’s so cool’ and that the information was classified and ‘highly confidential.’ The conversation is believed to be a key piece of evidence in the special counsel’s indictment against the former president.
Asked by Fox Digital how the audio recording squares with what he told Baier last week, Trump answered, ‘I said it very clearly – I had a whole desk full of lots of papers, mostly newspaper articles, copies of magazines, copies of different plans, copies of stories, having to do with many, many subjects, and what was said was absolutely fine. … We did nothing wrong. This is a whole hoax.’
But Trump didn’t repeat his response from a week earlier that there was no document.
Fox Digital followed up by asking the former president if he was concerned about his own voice on the audio recording.
‘My voice was fine. What did I say wrong on those recordings? I didn’t even see the recording. All I know is I did nothing wrong,’ Trump said. ‘We had a lot of papers, a lot of papers stacked up. In fact, you hear the rustle of the paper. And nobody said that I did anything wrong other than the fake news, which is Fox, too.’
Asked if there were any other recordings that may materialize, Trump said, ‘I don’t know of any recordings that we should be concerned with because I don’t do things wrong. I do things right. I’m a legitimate person.’
And taking aim at President Joe Biden, Trump charged, ‘I’m not like Biden that gets hundreds of millions of dollars from people and countries.’
‘We do things right, so I don’t care about any recordings,’ Trump added.
The former president was interviewed in Concord, New Hampshire, ahead of his keynote address to the New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women’s annual fundraising gala.
Trump arrived in New Hampshire as a new public opinion survey indicated him expanding his already large double-digit lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the state that holds the first primary and second overall contest in the GOP nominating calendar.
DeSantis was also in New Hampshire on Tuesday, holding a town hall in southern town of Hollis. Three other Republican presidential candidates — former ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, entrepreneur, author and conservative commentator Vivek Ramaswamy, and ex-CIA spy and former Rep. Will Hurd — were also holding events in New Hampshire on the same day.
Trump has repeatedly targeted DeSantis for months, as his lead over the Florida governor in the GOP nominations polls has increased.
DeSantis, in an interview with Fox News’ Mark Meredith ahead of his Tuesday town hall in New Hampshire, emphasized that ‘we are pushing back’ and said he can effectively respond to Trump’s attacks or ‘otherwise I would be running.’
And DeSantis pointed to his numerous endorsements in New Hampshire and touted that ‘we’re going to continue to build momentum as we go through here.’
Trump’s campaign on Tuesday unveiled its initial New Hampshire grassroots leadership team.
‘We just announced 150 town captains, ward captains, and chairmen of all the counties and cities in the state,’ Trump campaign senior adviser in New Hampshire Steve Stepanek told Fox News. ‘We’ll probably be adding another 150 to that so that every single town, every single ward in the state will have a Trump captain who’s a Trump supporter and then we’re going to build a team around every single one of those people, and we’re going to train those people in the door knocking.’
Stepanek, a former state GOP chairman, predicted that ‘by September we’ll probably have well over 3,000 people who will be local people, Trump supporters who are passionate about the president who are going to be knocking their neighbors doors.’
After keynoting the luncheon in Concord, Trump stopped in Manchester to formally open his New Hampshire 2024 campaign headquarters.
Trump’s double-digit victory in the 2016 New Hampshire primary over a crowded field of rivals boosted him towards the Republican nomination and eventually the presidency.
Asked in his Fox News Digital interview about a potential second Trump administration and who he would possibly ask to return to duty, Trump said ‘we’ve had a lot of people. [Senior adviser] Stephen Miller. [Acting National Security Adviser] Gen. Kellogg. I could name so many. [Acting Director of National Intelligence] Ric Grenell was fantastic. We had mostly fantastic people.’
‘Everybody has bad ones. You have some that are good, but they turn out to be not so good. Not courageous enough like a [Attorney General] Bill Barr. He had no courage,’ Trump said. ‘But for everyone like that, I’ve had I would say at least 10 that were great.’