Former President Donald Trump reportedly discussed sensitive information about U.S. nuclear submarines with an Australian member of his club at Mar-a-Lago — an allegation that was shared with special counsel Jack Smith as his team investigates Mr. Trump‘s handling of classified information.
The alleged disclosure to an Australian businessman, Anthony Pratt, occurred months after Mr. Trump left office, according to the ABC News report, which cited unnamed sources familiar with the situation. They said the billionaire relayed the information to dozens of others, including journalists, company employees, Australian officials and former Australian prime ministers.
The report says that at the Florida club in April 2021, Mr. Pratt said he thought Australia should buy submarines from the U.S., prompting Mr. Trump to lean in and offer “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.”
Mr. Smith, who indicted Mr. Trump over his storage of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, is said to be investigating the incident through interviews with Mr. Pratt.
It was unclear if the information Mr. Trump provided was even accurate, though the investigators asked Mr. Pratt not to repeat the figures, the report said.
The report adds intrigue to the federal case against Mr. Trump in Florida over the boxes of classified documents he took to Mar-a-Lago.
He faces a trial in May on 40 criminal counts, including willful retention of national defense information, conspiracy to object to justice, and false statements. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
His valet, Walt Nauta, is charged with six counts, including conspiracy to obstruct justice. Carlos De Oliveira, an employee at Mar-a-Lago, is accused of hiding security footage of workers moving the classified documents.
Legal experts, speaking on CNN, said they doubt Mr. Smith will seek to charge Mr. Trump over the submarine allegations. For one thing, adding it to the list of charges would spur an exchange of evidence and delay proceedings as Mr. Trump looks for ways to push the trial beyond the 2024 election.
“It’s unlikely this will be charged,” said Andrew McCabe, the former acting director of the FBI. “However, I think we’ll hear this story again during the trial or after the trial if the president is convicted.”
Mr. Trump‘s attorneys this week asked the judge in the case to delay the trial date until at least mid-November 2024 — after the presidential election. Their client is the front-runner in the GOP primary race.
Meanwhile, Trump spokesman Steven Cheung said Mr. Trump did nothing wrong in the submarine situation and people have misunderstood the episode.
“These illegal leaks are coming from sources which totally lack proper context and relevant information,” he said. “The Department of Justice should investigate the criminal leaking, instead of perpetrating their baseless witch-hunts while knowing that President Trump did nothing wrong, has always insisted on truth and transparency, and acted in a proper manner, according to the law.”
Democrats, meanwhile, said there would be an uproar if the tables were turned.
“Donald Trump stole America’s nuclear secrets and then shared those secrets with randos at his golf club including foreign nationals,” Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., New Jersey Democrat, said on X. “This is the head of the Republican party. If a Democrat did this every Republican in Congress would be screaming treason on Fox News.”