Months following his departure from the White House, former President Donald Trump reportedly engaged in discussions involving potentially sensitive information regarding U.S. nuclear submarines with a member of his Mar-a-Lago Club, an Australian billionaire. This Australian billionaire allegedly proceeded to share this information with a wide range of individuals, including more than a dozen foreign officials, some of his own employees, and a handful of journalists, as revealed by sources knowledgeable about the matter.
This potential revelation was brought to the attention of special counsel Jack Smith’s team during their investigation into Trump’s alleged retention of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, as reported by sources to ABC News. The information could offer additional insight into Trump’s handling of government secrets deemed sensitive.
Throughout this year, prosecutors and FBI agents have reportedly conducted interviews with the Mar-a-Lago member in question, Anthony Pratt, who heads U.S.-based Pratt Industries, one of the world’s leading packaging companies.
In these interviews, Pratt recounted an encounter in April 2021 during which he, in an attempt to engage Trump in conversation, broached the topic of the American submarine fleet—a subject the two had discussed previously, according to sources familiar with the situation.
Per Pratt’s account, as conveyed by these sources, he conveyed his belief to Trump that Australia should consider purchasing submarines from the United States. In response, Trump, appearing enthusiastic and leaning in closer to Pratt in a discreet manner, allegedly disclosed two pieces of information about U.S. submarines: the purported precise number of nuclear warheads they typically carry and precisely how close they can purportedly approach a Russian submarine without detection.
Following his meeting with Trump, Pratt reportedly described the former president’s statements to at least 45 individuals, including six journalists, 11 employees from his company, 10 Australian officials, and three former Australian prime ministers, according to the sources cited by ABC News.
Though Pratt stated that he couldn’t ascertain the accuracy of Trump’s remarks about U.S. submarines, investigators reportedly urged him not to repeat the numbers that Trump had allegedly shared, indicating that the information might be too sensitive to disseminate further.
It remains unclear whether the information provided by Trump was accurate, but the incident was subject to investigation by Smith’s team.
Sources also indicated that another witness, a former employee of Mar-a-Lago who worked under Trump, informed investigators that shortly after Pratt met with Trump, he overheard Pratt relaying some of what the former president had discussed.
As recounted by these sources, the former Mar-a-Lago employee expressed his astonishment and concern about the former president imparting what seemed to be sensitive information to a non-U.S. citizen.
According to sources, Pratt assured investigators that Trump did not present him with any government documents during their April 2021 encounter or at any other time when they crossed paths at Mar-a-Lago.
As stated by the sources, Pratt insisted to investigators that he shared details of his meeting with Trump to illustrate his advocacy for Australia in its dealings with the United States. Some of the Australian officials to whom Pratt reportedly spoke were involved in ongoing negotiations with the Biden administration over the acquisition of nuclear-powered attack submarines from the United States, a deal that was ultimately secured earlier this year. President Joe Biden clarified that none of the submarines sold to Australia would be equipped with nuclear weapons.
It’s worth noting that special counsel Smith’s June indictment against Trump, which encompassed 40 counts related to the unlawful retention of national defense information and obstruction-related offenses, did not contain any information pertaining to Trump’s alleged April 2021 conversation with Pratt.
Last year, Trump, while criticizing the Biden administration for what he considered a weak response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, asserted that if he were still in office, he would emphasize that the United States possessed superior nuclear capabilities and the world’s most powerful submarines, which he suggested were highly elusive.
Pratt joined Mar-a-Lago as a member shortly after Trump assumed the presidency in 2017 and publicly pledged to invest an additional $2 billion in American manufacturing jobs. Over the next several years, Pratt visited Mar-a-Lago approximately ten times and interacted with Trump on multiple occasions, including a dinner with Trump and a U.S. senator at another Trump-owned property nearby, as disclosed by Pratt to investigators, according to sources. Pratt also visited the White House in 2018 during Trump’s meeting with Australia’s then-prime minister, based on online records.
In 2019, while speaking at the opening of a Pratt Industries plant in Wapakoneta, Ohio, Trump referred to Pratt as a “friend” and commended him for his financial support of the plant.
“We’re here to celebrate a great opening and a great gentleman,” Trump remarked. “Anthony is one of the most successful men in the world—perhaps Australia’s most successful man.”
Standing alongside Trump, Pratt attributed his investment in the plant to President Trump’s election, which, he claimed, instilled confidence in investing in America.
However, in recent months, Pratt, as per sources, informed investigators of his support for the current U.S. government, characterizing himself as one who tends to align with the reigning authority.
Representatives for Pratt did not respond to inquiries from ABC News, while a spokesperson for Trump contended that the information relayed to ABC News via “leaks” lacked the “proper context and relevant information.” The spokesperson affirmed that President Trump had acted lawfully, maintaining a commitment to truth and transparency throughout his tenure.