Donald Trump admitted in 2019 that the letters he wrote to Kim Jong Un and later took with him when he left the White House were secret, raising questions about Trump’s The credibility of a main character. Defended in an investigation into his unauthorized retention of government documents.
That December, Trump shared with Woodward a letter from Kim Jong-un, saying: “Nobody else has them, but I want you to respect them…don’t say I gave them to you, okay?” That’s according to recordings obtained by CNN and The Washington Post on Tuesday.
When Woodward asked on the phone the following month about Trump’s letter to the North Korean leader, the president replied: “Oh, these are top secret.”
The comments contradict Trump’s claim that he did not take any government secrets with him when he leaves the White House in January 2021. In fact, the National Archives, which keeps records of the former president, spent much of 2021 trying to get Kim’s letters back from Trump, only to succeed earlier this year.
The statements are included in the Trump tapes: Twenty interviews with President Trump by Bob Woodward to be released on Tuesday, which also sparked accusations that he was at his resort in southern Florida at Mar-a-Lago. Questions about the credibility of the defense against charges of illegally keeping government secrets.
The FBI raided Mar-a-Lago in August and took away a trove of documents, sparking a court battle after the former president claimed some of them were protected by executive or attorney-client privilege.
Trump’s letter to Kim Jong Un, part of his administration’s attempt to defuse nuclear tensions with North Korea, shows his admiration for the leader of one of the world’s most authoritarian regimes. The two exchanged birthday greetings and “best wishes” to friends and family, according to English translations of the letters reported by The Washington Post, which were included in written transcripts of the audiobook.
During a visit to the White House, Trump asked Woodward about the documents and whether he had made “photos of them or something.” Woodward replied that he had dictated them into his tape recorder.
In an interview with The Washington Post, the paper’s deputy editor, Woodward, known for his Watergate revelations, said Trump allowed him to work on the documents in his West Wing office under the watchful eye of an aide. The documents were not clearly marked by classification, Woodward said.
In the audiobook, Woodward described “Trump’s haphazard, dangerous approach to the most classified procedures and information, as we see now at Mar-a-Lago in 2022, where he has 184 classified documents, Twenty-five of these were marked ‘Top Secret’ ””.
He specifically addressed Trump’s comments that he “built a weapons system that no one has ever had in this country before. We have something you haven’t even seen or heard of.”
“We have things Putin and Xi Jinping have never heard of before,” Trump told reporters about Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.