Initially, the Justice Department going after Donald Trump over his alleged mishandling of classified documents seemed like one of the sillier legal problems facing the former president. So he took home a few papers he shouldn’t have; how big a deal could that be?
Then every detail that emerged in the case seemed to back up the most outlandish, worse-case scenario. Maybe the content of the papers wasn’t actually all that serious? Nope, they involve nuclear secrets. Well, he didn’t share this information, right? He discussed war plans with civilians, and it’s on tape. Okay, but he kept the papers in a safe or something at Mar-a-Lago? Nah, here are photos of papers stored in an active ballroom, a bathroom, and scattered all over the floor. At least he didn’t actively try to hide these papers from the Feds? Actually, he allegedly directed two Mar-a-Lago employees to delete security-camera footage that shows them attempting to hide the papers from investigators.
Now, ABC News reports that while investigating Trump’s handling of classified documents, Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team learned that he discussed sensitive information about nuclear submarines with a Mar-a-Lago member. And in a similar fashion, the story just keeps getting worse and worse as you read through it.
Prosecutors and FBI agents have reportedly interviewed the club member, Anthony Pratt, at least twice this year. The Australian businessman runs Pratt Industries, one of the world’s largest cardboard companies. Pratt says that while trying to make conversation with Trump during an April 2021 meeting a Mar-a-Lago he mentioned the U.S. submarine fleet. Then Trump volunteered specific information about nuclear warheads carried by U.S. submarines, and how close they can get to Russian subs. Per ABC:
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.
Despite Trump’s implied effort to “be discreet,” Pratt went on to share this information “within minutes,” and he was loud enough that a Mar-a-Lago employee heard him. After the meeting, the billionaire cardboard magnate relayed the story to an astonishing number of people:
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.
This may have just been idle gossip to Trump, but Pratt told investigators that he repeated the information so widely because he wanted to show various Australians how he was advocating for them in the U.S. At the time, the two nations were actively negotiating over the purchase of U.S. subs:
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.
Pratt wasn’t sure if Trump was just blustering, but “investigators nevertheless asked Pratt not to repeat the numbers that Trump allegedly told him,” per ABC News. It seems the one misstep Trump didn’t make during this interaction was to whip out a classified document to back up his assertion. But at the rate this case is going, it wouldn’t be surprising if Trump responds to this story by posting proof of his submarine claims on Truth Social.
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