“Tip of the iceberg”: Experts sound the alarm after Trump blabbed nuclear secrets at Mar-a-Lago

Former President Donald Trump allegedly discussed potentially sensitive information about U.S. nuclear submarines with an Australian billionaire member of his Mar-a-Lago club who then shared it with at least 45 others, according to ABC News and The New York Times.

Special counsel Jack Smith’s team and the FBI have interviewed the billionaire, Anthony Pratt, at least twice, according to ABC News. Pratt is among more than 80 potential witnesses that may testify against Trump in the classified documents trial, according to the Times.

Pratt, the owner of US-based packaging company Pratt Industries, shared the information with more than a dozen foreign officials as well as employees and journalists, sources told the outlet.

Pratt told investigators that he brought up the U.S. submarine fleet, which they had discussed before, sources said.

Via 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.

After meeting with Trump, Pratt shared the information with at least 45 others, according to the report. Pratt told investigators he could not determine whether what Trump told him was true but investigators cautioned him not to repeat the numbers Trump allegedly told him, underscoring the potentially sensitive nature of the information, sources told the outlet.

Another witness who previously worked at Mar-a-Lago also told investigators that he heard Pratt relaying the information to others within minutes of his meeting with Trump. The ex-employee told investigators that he was “shocked” and “bothered” that Trump provided seemingly sensitive information to a foreign citizen, according to the report.

Pratt told investigators that Trump did not show him any government documents and insisted that what he told others was to show them that he was advocating for his country in the U.S., according to ABC’s sources. Some of the officials who were told were involved in negotiations with the Biden administration to purchase nuclear submarines from the United States at the time.

The incident was not included in Smith’s indictment of Trump, who was charged with illegally retaining national security documents and obstructing government efforts to retrieve them.

A Trump spokesperson told ABC News that the report 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.

Joe Hockey, a former Australian ambassador to the U.S., downplayed the information that was shared.

“If that’s all that was discussed, we already know all that,” he told the Times. “We have had Australians serving with Americans on U.S. submarines for years, and we share the same technology and the same weapons as the U.S. Navy.”

But the Times also noted that Trump has been known to share classified information with others, including at an infamous 2017 White House meeting with two Russian officials shortly after he fired then-FBI Director James Comey.

New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman told CNN on Thursday that prosecutors will likely use Pratt’s testimony to “establish a pattern of Trump being cavalier with sensitive information and the government’s secrets.”

“There was an infamous Oval Office meeting with two Russian officials where he is said to have spilled some sensitive information that upset Israeli officials,” she said, according to Mediaite. “He tweeted out a classified picture of an Iranian launch site, I think it was in 2019. This is something he has done for a while. This is the kind of behavior that added to why President Biden cut off Trump’s briefings that ex-presidents get to sensitive information and classified briefings, because according to the current president, you know, what could happen other than that Trump would slip up and say something?”

“Hard to envision a trained, well-funded foreign intelligence service not taking advantage of this personality trait,” former FBI counterintelligence official Pete Strzok tweeted.

Columnist David Rothkopf predicted that the report was just “the tip of the iceberg.”

“He didn’t keep all those classified docs because his inner archivist demanded it. It was because he saw value in them…and the value came from sharing the information with people who shouldn’t have it,” he wrote.

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CNN legal analyst Norm Eisen predicted that the incident would be used by prosecutors to show Trump’s “culpability.”

“It also sheds light on his intent. In any criminal case, you have to prove state of mind, and so it’s relevant on that ground,” he said, according to Mediaite. “But we do have to caution, of course, it’s a media report now. It does not appear to be in the case, certainly is not in the existing charges. We’ll see if it enters the case, but very damaging, even if it turns out not to have been strictly accurate.”

Former Defense Secretary William Cohen blasted Trump over the reported revelation.

“He’s given away secrets in the past ― will do so in the future. In this case here, he’s being given the benefit of the doubt ― how much more evidence do we need of his misbehavior in terms of attacking our institution?” he told CNN. “The military, he thinks those who give life and limb for service to the country, are ‘losers’ and ’suckers.’ He’s throwing the intelligence community under the bus in Helsinki. Everything he has done has been to undermine respect for this country of ours.”

“This is just one more example why we should never allow, never vote, to allow him to get his hands on classified information in the future,” Cohen added. “He shouldn’t be anywhere near the Oval Office ever.”

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