Donald Trump says reports he disclosed secret information regarding US submarines are false, but he will always encourage countries such as Australia to purchase American weaponry.
A report this week suggested the former president told Australian billionaire Anthony Pratt confidential information about US nuclear submarines during a meeting at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, of which Mr Pratt is reportedly a member.
US outlet ABC News reported Trump told Mr Pratt sensitive information in April 2021, including how many warheads the subs routinely carry and how close they can get to a Russian submarine without being detected.
Mr Trump is currently being investigated for allegedly hoarding classified documents after leaving office.
In a post on his social media platform Truth Social on Friday local time, Trump labelled ABC’s report “false and ridiculous”.
“Other than the fact that I will often state that we make the best submarines and military equipment anywhere in the world,” Mr Trump said.
“A pretty well known fact!”
Mr Trump suggested “fake” stories were being spread by “corrupt prosecutors” trying to interfere with the 2024 presidential election.
“Based on the polling, where I am 60 points up on republican candidates, and 11 points up on crooked Joe Biden, the people of our country aren’t buying it,” he said.
ABC News said the alleged disclosure was reported to special counsel Jack Smith who is leading the prosecution team.
Australia, the US and the UK are working on a pathway for Canberra to acquire nuclear-powered submarines under the trilateral AUKUS pact, which was formally announced in September 2021.
Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham said the conversations happened before the AUKUS agreement was finalised, and would not have spanned Australian measures undertaken to achieve the deal.
“There may have been … hypotheticals about whether Australia should access American technology or submarines,” he told Sky News on Friday.
“Of course, these are highly sensitive materials and information and it’s why so much care needs to go into how we engage with the United States.”
Mr Trump said he will always promote US military equipment and encourage countries such as Australia to purchase it.
“The alternative would be for Allies, and others, to buy from Russia, China, or elsewhere. I like creating jobs in America, which was one of my most successful achievements as President!”
Mr Pratt and Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles have been contacted for comment.