Former President Donald Trump allegedly discussed potentially sensitive information about U.S. nuclear submarines with a member of his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, after his presidency, ABC reported Thursday.
The member is Australian billionaire Anthony Pratt, sources told ABC. A source familiar with the matter confirmed to CNN’s Kaitlan Collins that Pratt, who had a close relationship with Trump while he occupied the Oval Office, was questioned by the special prosecutor investigating Trump’s retention of classified documents after he left his office. functions. Another source told CNN’s Kristen Holmes that Pratt was on the list of potential witnesses for the start of the trial.
Sources told ABC that Pratt allegedly then shared the information he received from the former president during an April 2021 meeting with “more than a dozen foreign officials, several of his own employees, and a handful of journalists.”
ABC also reported that, according to sources, a former Mar-a-Lago employee told investigators he was “disturbed” that the former president would disclose such information to someone who is not not an American citizen. He added that he overheard Pratt sharing potentially sensitive information within minutes of meeting with the former president, sources told ABC.
These allegations were not included in special prosecutor Jack Smith’s indictment against Trump for his handling of classified documents. But the incident was reported and Smith’s team investigated, according to ABC.
A Trump spokesperson criticized ABC’s report, telling CNN that the claims “lacked proper context and relevant information.”
“The Justice Department should investigate criminal leaks, instead of conducting a baseless witch hunt while knowing that President Trump did nothing wrong, always insisted on truth and transparency, and took action appropriately, in accordance with the law,” he added. the spokesperson said.
CNN contacted Pratt, who did not respond to multiple requests for comment. A spokesperson for Smith declined to comment.
Pratt reportedly told investigators that after telling Trump that Australia should buy submarines from the United States, the former president then explained how many nuclear warheads American submarines carry and “how far they can approach a Russian submarine without being detected,” sources said. ABC. But Pratt told investigators he was not shown any government documents, according to the sources.
Joe Hockey, Australia’s former ambassador to the United States, downplayed the claims, telling CNN on Thursday evening that if the conversation between Trump and Pratt proceeded as reported, “nothing was said that we all didn’t know “.
“Australian submariners have served on American submarines for years,” Hockey told CNN. “Similarly, American naval personnel were on board our ships. This is a fully integrated partnership. The combat system of American and Australian submarines is a joint program. Likewise, we share weapons technology.
However, even if Australian submariners knew of the information Trump passed to Pratt, if that information was classified, then it was illegal to share it publicly.
Pratt maintained close ties with Trump when he was president. When his company, Pratt Industries, opened a factory in Ohio, President Trump attended the opening and praised the businessman in his remarks.
Another source told CNN’s Collins that during the visit, Pratt planned to unveil two plaques, an official one celebrating the factory’s opening in the United States and a second one he had spoken to Trump about beforehand. The second plaque, which Pratt kept secret until the day of the visit, read: “Make America and Australia Great Again.” But officials at the plant opening quickly removed it and advised Pratt against doing so, the source said.
CNN previously obtained audio of a meeting Trump had in July 2021 at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, during which the former president acknowledged he had a classified Pentagon document on a potential attack on Iran. The audio, reported exclusively by CNN, was a key piece of evidence in the special prosecutor’s indictment.
Trump faces 40 counts in the classified documents case, including willful withholding of national defense information and conspiracy to obstruct justice. This is one of four cases in which the former president has been charged.
Trump, who is seeking a return to the White House and remains the Republican Party’s favorite, asked the judge presiding over the case late Wednesday to delay the trial until after the 2024 election. A similar request had already been denied.
This story has been updated with additional reporting.