By Jeremy Herb, CNN
Former President Donald Trump falsely claimed he had given the letters he exchanged with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to the National Archives last year when he was interviewed by New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman for her forthcoming book, according to audio of the interview obtained by CNN.
Trump also claimed in his interviews with Haberman that he was not watching television while the January 6, 2021, riot at the US Capitol unfolded, which has been contradicted by testimony of White House aides to the House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection.
Haberman’s book, “Confidence Man,” is being released on Tuesday. The book, which includes new details about Trump’s time in the White House, chronicles how the former President’s rise in the world of New York City politics and real estate in the 1970s and 1980s ultimately shaped his worldview and his presidency.
Haberman told The New York Times, which first reported the audio clips, that she asked Trump in a September 2021 interview “on a lark” whether he had taken any memento documents from the White House. Trump told Haberman, “Nothing of great urgency, no,” before bringing up the Kim letters unprompted.
“I have great things though, you know. The letters, the Kim Jong Un letters. I had many of them,” Trump said.
“You were able to take those with you?” Haberman asked.
“No, I think that has the … I think that’s in the archives, but most of it is in the Archives. But the Kim Jong Un letters, we have incredible things. I have incredible letters with other leaders.”
CNN and other outlets have previously reported that Trump, in fact, had kept the Kim letters among the tens of thousands of government documents that he took to his Mar-a-Lago resort after leaving the White House. The letters were among the items in the boxes he turned over to the National Archives in January, which also included classified material that prompted the Archives to refer the matter to the Justice Department.
In another audio clip of her interview with Trump, Haberman asked how Trump found out that rioters had breached the Capitol. The former President claimed he wasn’t watching television.
“I had heard that afterwards, and actually on the late side. I was having meetings. I was also with (then-White House chief of staff) Mark Meadows and others. I was not watching television. I didn’t have the television on,” he said.
Trump continued: “I didn’t usually have the television on. I’d have it on if there was something. I then later turned it on and I saw what was happening.”
But there have been multiple accounts that Trump did, in fact, watch the chaos at the Capitol unfolding on television, and it was a focus of one of the January 6 committee’s hearings earlier this year.
Haberman told the Times she thought Trump’s lies about what he was doing on January 6 represents two things: “His desire to construct an alternate reality, and his particular sensitivity to anyone suggesting he watches a lot of television, which he associates with people diminishing his intelligence (even though he watches a very large amount of television).”
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