- Former President Donald Trump intensified his attacks on special counsel Jack Smith, who oversaw the classified documents probe that led to Trump's federal indictment.
- Trump railed against Smith and his criminal case on social media, and asked for someone to "explain" his position to the special counsel and his family and friends.
- Trump's latest post came after CNN and other outlets published an audio recording of a meeting in which Trump references a document that he says is "highly confidential" and "secret."
Hours after the release of an audio tape in which Donald Trump discusses a classified document that he kept after leaving office, the former president intensified his attacks on the special counsel who oversees the probe that led to Trump's historic indictment.
In an all-caps social media post Tuesday morning, Trump decried the criminal charges that have been filed against him in federal court and asked "somebody" to "explain" his position to special counsel Jack Smith, "his family, and his friends."
A spokesman for the Department of Justice declined to comment on Trump's latest broadside against Smith, who was tapped last year to lead multiple criminal investigations involving the former president.
Trump was indicted on charges stemming from his alleged mishandling of classified documents and efforts to keep them from the government after leaving office. He pleaded not guilty earlier this month to 37 counts, including willful retention of national defense information and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Trump's post claimed that "as president of the United States, I come under the Presidential Records Act," instead of the Espionage Act, which is the law cited in 31 of the counts against Trump. Fact-checkers have disputed Trump's characterizations of both laws.
That statement on Truth Social was not the first time Trump has referenced Smith's personal circle. On the morning of his arraignment in federal court in Florida, the ex-president wrote that Smith is a "Trump Hater, as are all his friends and family." That post also asserted without evidence that materials found in the boxes of records at the center of the classified documents case were "probably 'planted.'"
Trump's latest post followed the Monday night release by CNN of an audio recording of a July 2021 meeting in Bedminster, New Jersey, in which Trump references a document that he says is "highly confidential" and "secret." NBC News obtained the audio recording Tuesday.
"This was done by the military, and given to me," Trump said in the tape, which was recorded months after he left the White House. Trump indicates that the document has to do with a plan of attack on Iran.
"As president I could have declassified it. Now I can't," he said in the recording.
Trump was reportedly speaking to a writer and publisher who were working on a book about former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. Two of Trump's staff members were also present.
None of them had security clearances or any need to know the classified information referenced by Trump, according to the indictment, which references a transcript of the recording.
In a Fox News interview last week, Trump said "there was no document" and that he was referring to "newspaper stories, magazine stories and articles."
When asked about the newly released audio in a subsequent interview with Fox published Tuesday afternoon, Trump said, "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," Trump told Fox.
Trump's attacks on Smith fit the pattern and style that the former president has employed against many of his other legal and political foes.
He has regularly fired rhetorical salvos against Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who is leading a separate, state-level criminal prosecution against Trump in connection with hush money payments made before the 2016 presidential election.
Trump in April pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records in that case. Ahead of that court appearance in Manhattan, Trump targeted the presiding judge, Juan Merchan, accusing him and his family of being "Trump haters."
Smith is overseeing a separate probe of the facts surrounding the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and the post-presidential transfer of power in 2020. No charges have yet been filed stemming from that investigation, which is ongoing.