Trump allegedly discussed US nuclear subs with foreign national after leaving White House: Sources
Trump allegedly discussed the information with an Australian billionaire.
Months after leaving the White House, former President Donald Trump allegedly discussed potentially sensitive information about U.S. nuclear submarines with a member of his Mar-a-Lago Club -- an Australian billionaire who then allegedly shared the information with scores of others, including more than a dozen foreign officials, several of his own employees, and a handful of journalists, according to sources familiar with the matter.
The potential disclosure was reported to special counsel Jack Smith's team as they investigated Trump's alleged hoarding of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, the sources told ABC News. The information could shed further light on Trump's handling of sensitive government secrets.
Prosecutors and FBI agents have at least twice this year interviewed the Mar-a-Lago member, Anthony Pratt, who runs U.S.-based Pratt Industries, one of the world's largest packaging companies.
In those interviews, Pratt described how -- looking to make conversation with Trump during a meeting at Mar-a-Lago in April 2021 -- he brought up the American submarine fleet, which the two had discussed before, the sources told ABC News.
According to Pratt's account, as described by the sources, Pratt told Trump he believed Australia should start buying its submarines from the United States, to which an excited Trump -- "leaning" toward Pratt as if to be discreet -- then told Pratt two pieces of information about U.S. submarines: the supposed exact number of nuclear warheads they routinely carry, and exactly how close they supposedly can get to a Russian submarine without being detected.
In emails and conversations after meeting with Trump, Pratt described Trump's remarks to at least 45 others, including six journalists, 11 of his company's employees, 10 Australian officials, and three former Australian prime ministers, the sources told ABC News.
While Pratt told investigators he couldn’t tell if what Trump said about U.S. submarines was real or just bluster, investigators nevertheless asked Pratt not to repeat the numbers that Trump allegedly told him, suggesting the information could be too sensitive to relay further, ABC News was told.
It's unclear if the information was accurate, but the episode was investigated by Smith's team.
Sources said another witness, one of Trump's former employees at Mar-a-Lago, told investigators that, within minutes of Pratt's meeting with Trump, he heard Pratt relaying to someone else some of what Trump had just said.
According to the sources, the former Mar-a-Lago employee also told investigators he was "bothered" and "shocked" to hear that the former president had provided such seemingly sensitive information to a non-U.S. citizen.
Pratt told investigators Trump didn't show him any government documents during their April 2021 meeting, nor at any other time they crossed paths at Mar-a-Lago, sources said.
According to the sources, Pratt insisted to investigators that he told others about his meeting with Trump to show them how he was advocating for Australia with the United States. Some of the Australian officials that sources said he told were, as reflected in news reports at the time, involved in then-ongoing negotiations with the Biden administration over a deal for Australia to purchase a number of nuclear-powered attack submarines from the United States.
The deal was ultimately secured earlier this year, with Australia agreeing to purchase at least three Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines, though President Joe Biden has said that none of the submarines sold to Australia will be armed with nuclear weapons.
Special counsel Smith did not include any information about Trump's alleged April 2021 conversation with Pratt in his June indictment against Trump, which charged the former president with 40 counts of unlawful retention of national defense information and obstruction-related offenses.
Last year, while needling the Biden administration for what he said was a weak response to Russia's war on Ukraine, Trump said that if he were still president, he would make sure Russia understood that the United States is "a greater nuclear power" with "the greatest submarines in the world."
"[They are] the most powerful machines ever built, and nobody knows where they are," Trump said on the Fox Business network.
Shortly after Trump became president in 2017, Pratt joined Mar-a-Lago as a member and publicly pledged to invest another $2 billion in American manufacturing jobs.
Over the next few years, Pratt visited Mar-a-Lago about 10 times, interacting with Trump on several occasions, once even having dinner with Trump and a U.S. senator at another Trump-owned property nearby, Pratt told investigators, according to sources. Pratt also visited the White House in 2018, when Trump was meeting with Australia's then-prime minister, according to online records.
In 2019, speaking at the opening of a Pratt Industries plant in Wapakoneta, Ohio, Trump called Pratt a "friend" and praised him for funding the plant.
"We're here to celebrate a great opening and a great gentleman," Trump said. "Anthony is one of the most successful men in the world -- perhaps Australia's most successful man."
Standing beside Trump, Pratt then said he "would not have invested in this plant if it wasn't for President Trump's election, [which] has given us an incredible faith in investing in America."
But in recent months, according to sources, Pratt told investigators that he now supports the current U.S. government, describing himself as someone who tends to just "side with the king."
Representatives for Pratt did not respond to messages seeking comment from ABC News.
A Trump spokesperson said that what ABC News was told -- through what the spokesperson called "leaks" -- lacks "proper context and relevant information."
"President Trump did nothing wrong, has always insisted on truth and transparency, and acted in a proper manner, according to the law," the spokesperson said.