Former president Donald Trump allegedly discussed secret details of US nuclear submarine capabilities with an Australian billionaire shortly after leaving office.
Sources that appear to be within special counsel Jack Smith’s office claimed that the conversation started when paper packaging magnate Anthony Pratt told Trump in a Mar-a-Lago conversation that he thought Australia should buy nuclear submarines from the United States (related Australia to Buy U.S. Nuclear-Powered Submarines in Deal to Counter China).
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.
There are a lot of problems with this story.
The information obviously came out of Jack Smith’s office. Given how his investigation has been run, one must assume the leak was authorized. There is no evidence, which Pratt admits, that what Trump said was classified or even true. All the evidence indicates that Pratt didn’t think so because he told a lot of people about the conversation. If he’d thought the information was classified, he probably would’ve kept it to himself.
Smith is tying this case to the prosecution of Trump for storing classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. Unless there is a document in that trove that holds this information, it is hard to see what it has to do with anything. Pratt, apparently, has been called as a witness, but unless the government is willing to have him relate this allegedly classified information in court and the government agrees that it is classified, it is an interesting anecdote and nothing else.
The anecdote blends in neatly, too neatly, with a narrative the Democrats have tried to pin on Trump since before the Russia Hoax imploded.
Still, Mr. Trump has been known to share classified information verbally on other occasions. During an Oval Office meeting in 2017 shortly after he fired the F.B.I. director James B. Comey, Mr. Trump revealed sensitive classified intelligence to two Russian officials, according to people briefed on the matter.
Well into his presidency, he also posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, a classified photo of an Iranian launch site.
The indictment in the documents case also accused Mr. Trump of showing a classified battle plan to attack Iran to a group of visitors to his club in Bedminster, N.J. Prosecutors claim that a recording of the meeting with the visitors depicts Mr. Trump as describing the document he brandished as “secret.”
The unprecedented and uncalled-for raid on Mar-a-Lago that resulted in FBI goons rummaging through Melania’s panty drawer also brought allegations that the nation’s secrets were strewn about the Trump mansion: see The Political Persecution of President Trump Is Not Going to Make Trump or His Supporters Go Away or Accept the Outcome.
Since the raid, we’ve been treated to an ever-morphing series of excuses, none of them backed up by any official documents, that went from recovering presidential papers that should have been given to the National Archives and Records Administration to increasingly bizarre claims that President Trump had secret nuclear information (Startling New Report Indicates FBI Was Looking for Extremely Sensitive Documents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago) and even payroll documents identifying US deep cover agents.
This story has two purposes. It is a story that will never be told in court but which builds on the storyline Smith needs to convict Trump. He’s basically talking to the jury pool to make them predisposed to believe his case. Second, he’s playing to the people about to vote in the GOP primary and the general election by telling them Trump can’t be trusted with classified information.