- Trump told journalist Bob Woodward in 2020 that the letters he wrote to Kim were “so top secret.”
- In his upcoming audiobook, Woodward wrote that Trump was cagey about showing him the letters.
- The letters to Kim were among the classified files Trump brought to Florida, per The Washington Post.
Former President Donald Trump indicated during an interview in January 2020 that he knew the letters he wrote to Kim Jong Un were top secret.
From 2016 to 2020, veteran journalist Bob Woodward spoke to Trump in 20 interviews. Now, Woodward is releasing over eight hours of Trump interviews in an upcoming audiobook, “The Trump Tapes: Bob Woodward’s Twenty Interviews with President Trump.”
Among the topics they discussed were the letters to Kim, which Trump once described as love letters.
In a December 2019 conversation, Trump was cautious about showing Woodward the letters he wrote to the North Korean leader. A month later, when Woodward again asked Trump if he could see the letters, Trump said the letters were “so top secret,” per The Washington Post’s reporting of Woodward’s notes from the call.
Woodward viewed the Kim letters at a later date, and dictated their contents into a voice recorder, per an audio clip aired on CNN on Tuesday. In the clip, Trump can be heard telling Woodward to refrain from publicizing that it was Trump himself who had shown the letters to him.
“Nobody else has them, but I want you to treat them with respect,” Trump told Woodward, per CNN. “Don’t say I gave them to you. Okay?”
The National Archives and Records Administration, or NARA, removed 15 boxes of documents from Mar-a-Lago in January. The Kim letters were among the documents. Some of the other files had classification markings on them, which raised alarm bells at NARA about how much protected material Trump took with him to his Florida residence.
The FBI is probing whether Trump broke any of three federal laws — including the Espionage Act — by keeping the documents at his Florida residence. The FBI seized a cache of classified documents, including some marked “top secret” when it raided Mar-a-Lago on August 8.
Woodward’s account that Trump knew the files were declassified appears to contradict the former president’s many defenses. Trump’s lawyer, Pat Philbin, claimed to NARA in 2021 that the boxes found at Mar-a-Lago contained only news clippings.
For his part, Trump baselessly claimed in September that the documents found by NARA were already declassified — and that he has the power to declassify documents just by thinking about doing so.
A representative at Trump’s post-presidential press office did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.