Former President Donald Trump’s latest indictment, over classified documents he kept at his resort in Florida, has turned people’s attention back to North Carolina.
And specifically to Mark Meadows.
Information gathering for Meadows’ book, “The Chief’s Chief,” helped reveal that Trump knew he had classified documents in his possession, the indictment indicates.
Last week, CNN obtained and reported on transcripts of a recording made with Trump’s permission in July 2021, at his New Jersey golf club. In the recording, Trump talked about classified documents he had in his possession that detailed a plan to attack Iran. CNN reported that those in the room included two people working on Meadows’ autobiography and Trump staffers.
Meadows once served as a representative for North Carolina’s far southwestern counties in Congress, but resigned to become Trump’s chief of staff. Meadows, a one-time adversary of the former president, turned into his loyal adviser, but after Trump lost his reelection campaign, Meadows found himself mired in the fallout that included investigation and subpoenas.
On Friday, when prosecutors released a 49-page indictment detailing Trump’s 37 charges, the conversation that CNN reported on was included in the document.
The unsealed indictment says that at the time of the recording, the media was reporting that military officials had feared that Trump would attack a foreign country at the end of his presidency. When he greeted the writer, the publisher and two staffers he told them he had Gen. Mark Milley’s plan for attacking that very country.
“I just found it, isn’t that amazing?” the indictment quotes Trump. “Except its like, highly confidential. Secret. This is secret information. Look, look at this.”
The former president and his staffer then addressed the document needing to be declassified.
“See as president I could have declassified it,” Trump said, the indictment states.
No one in the room besides Trump, including Trump’s staffers, had security clearance, prosecutors allege.
The writer for Meadows’ autobiography did use the information, on Page 6 of Meadows’ book, discussing the articles that had come out about Trump wanting to attack a country, but describing Trump telling the writer it was Milley who wanted to attack Iran.
“The president recalls a four-page report typed up by Mark Milley himself,” the book states. (That claim is disputed, CNN reported.) “It contained the general’s own plan to attack Iran, deploying massive numbers of troops, something he urged President Trump to do more than once during his presidency. President Trump denied those requests every time.”
The writer added that changing the narrative made Milley a convenient hero to liberals and Trump haters.
As investigations have begun to close in on Trump, Meadows has remained quieter than normal, much to the consternation of the Trump’s former legal team — they resigned Friday — who feared he might be working with prosecutors, CNN reported.
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Meadows did testify before a grand jury, but it remains unclear whether he testified in this specific matter. Special prosecutor Jack Smith, who is leading the investigation into Trump, has a another case pending that looks into whether Trump’s actions to retain his power led to the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021.
Meadows’ testimony has long been sought after by members of Congress and investigators. He was a close confidant of the former president and stayed by his side on Jan. 6.
He refused to comply with a subpoena from the U.S. House Jan. 6 committee, which led its members to instead seek the testimony of his top aide, then-25-year-old Cassidy Hutchinson.
She told members of Congress that Meadows told her ahead of time that “things might get real bad” on Jan. 6, that he let Trump believe Secret Service would find a way to get him to the Capitol, that she heard Meadows say that Trump believed Vice President Mike Pence deserved to be hung by the insurrectionists and that Meadows had asked for a presidential pardon.
Trump’s current charges include willful retention of national defense information, conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding a document or record, corruptly concealing a document or record, concealing a document in a federal investigation, scheme to conceal, false statement and representation. If found guilty on these charges, Trump could spend the rest of his life in federal prison.
His aide, Walt Nauta, is also charged with helping to move the documents around Mar-a-Lago, from storage rooms to a bathroom, bedroom and ballroom, to keep them away from lawyers and government officials trying to ensure that Trump returned all of the government’s documents.
Meadows has not been charged.