CNN’s Kaitlan Collins responded to Trump attorney Jim Trusty’s repeated accusations that the network had leaked a significant recording of former President Donald Trump on behalf of the Justice Department. She vehemently denied these allegations during an interview on CNN Primetime.
On Wednesday, CNN reported that a tape had surfaced in which Trump discussed a classified document he had taken from the White House upon leaving. On the recording, Trump apparently acknowledged the document’s classified nature, preventing him from showing it to visitors. The document purportedly outlined a plan for an Iran invasion.
During their interview with Trusty on Wednesday night’s CNN Primetime, Abby Phillip and co-anchor Collins discussed this development. From the outset, Trusty consistently asserted, more than 30 times during the interview, that CNN had played a role in a DOJ “leak.”
But after the first twenty times, Phillip introduced Collins, who promptly denied the reporting was based on a leak. Trusty persisted in making the charge a dozen times more:
PHILLIP: Let me pause for just a second.
Kaitlan Collins is here and wants to ask a couple of questions.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: First, I want to say, this is not the result of a leak. This is the result of good reporting from our team on this, Jim.
But I want to ask about something you just said to Abby, which was you referenced the fact that Trump was still president when he left office. He left Washington I think he had about an hour left in his presidency.
Are you saying it was in that hour that he declassified the documents that were taken with him?
TRUSTY: Your timing is a little bit off. He landed in Mar-a-Lago and was at his residence while still president. It was little bit after that that Biden was sworn in.
So he had the absolute authority to take every one of those documents, any document he wants with him when he left the White House. What happens throughout history, through modern history is if you take documents and archives thinks they’re entitled to it, they start negotiating.
And that’s what they did. He was telling them things like hey, just ask if you want anything more. He gave them 15 boxes in January of 2022.
COLLINS: Well, after some back and forth. But just to be clear, you’re making the argument right now that by the time he was on the ground in Florida, after he left Washington, that that is when he declassified all of these documents that he took with him?
TRUSTY: No, no, no. I’m saying the documents he brought with him are effectively declassified and personalized under the Presidential Record Act. We’re talking about constitutional authority under the Constitution to declassify.
If he wants to take stuff with him and say, anything I take with me is declassified, if he wants to take stuff and say, anything I read at night is declassified, that was absolutely his right as president. And the personal — the Presidential Records Act makes it clear that we don’t even care about classified information. It is a statutory scheme that deals with presidential or personal only.
COLLINS: If this was declassified — Jim, if this was declassified, then why are we told that he’s on this tape basically telling the people in the room that he can’t share it with them?
TRUSTY: You are told by DOJ or FBI or whoever filtered that to you anything they can think of to justify the persecution.
COLLINS: No, but, Jim —
TRUSTY: So, no, Kaitlan, I’m telling you, this is — they had rumors out yesterday. There’s going to be one every day. They had rumors out yesterday characterizing the theoretical testimony of Evan Corcoran. It was completely false.
This is a campaign to justify —
COLLINS: That’s not relevant to this reporting.
TRUSTY: Sure it is. It calls into question whether any of their leak-based reporting is legitimate. And this is a — whether or not you got it through some third hand person, this is leak-based reporting.
I’m not second-guessing you for running the story. But what I’m telling you is it’s factually inaccurate, and I’m not going to treat it like it’s gospel.
COLLINS: You’re saying the story is wrong?
TRUSTY: I’m saying I’m not trying the case —
COLLINS: You just said it’s factually inaccurate. But earlier, it sounded like you were confirming it. So I want to be clear.
TRUSTY: Oh, I’m not confirm — I’m not confirming it. I’m telling you, we’re not going to respond the leaks.