Donald Trump is once again at the centre of explosive leaked audio — this time after an Australian billionaire and member of his Mar-a-Lago club gabbed about his extensive conversations with the former president.
Anthony Pratt, a businessman and chairman of Visy Industries, was heard on the tapes describing how Mr Trump would objectify his own wife and brag about his access to world leaders and US national security secrets as he sought to impress his friends and colleagues in the business world. Audio of Mr Pratt making those remarks was published by 60 Minutes Australia over the weekend.
It all comes after Mr Trump was separately reported by ABC News in early October to have discussed a much more serious topic with Mr Pratt: US nuclear submarines and their capabilities. On 5 October, the news outlet cited sources familiar with the Department of Justice’s investigation into Mr Trump’s handling of classified materials as saying that the matter had come up in the agency’s ongoing prosecution of the former president.
Should the agency find that Mr Trump shared top-secret information with Mr Pratt, he could face a superseding indictment in one of his two federal cases.
Let’s dive into the new audio obtained by 60 Minutes Australia and what Mr Pratt alleges he heard:
Trump bragged about ‘leveling a city’
In what could be one of the more shocking descriptions of Mr Trump’s relationships with leaders around the world, Mr Pratt described a conversation between then-President Trump and a leader of Iraq, presumably then-Iraqi President Barham Salih.
According to Mr Pratt, his US friend had boasted about brow-beating Mr Salih after the US strike targeting Qassem Soleimani, leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Soleimani was accused of directing Iranian-aligned forces against US troops and interests throughout the Middle East.
“I just bombed Iraq today,” Mr Pratt recalls Mr Trump as saying. “And the president of Iraq called me up and said, ‘You just levelled my city.’”
“And I said to him, ‘OK, what are you going to do about it?’” Mr Pratt alleges the US president claimed to have responded.
The comments underscore the lack of respect Mr Trump was known to show his colleagues on the world stage at times — the notable exception to that rule being Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, who enjoyed a warm relationship with Mr Trump and largely avoids any criticism from his US counterpart, even now.
The Ukraine call was just the beginning
Keeping on the topic of Mr Trump’s conversations with world leaders, Mr Pratt made another piece of news with his description of Mr Trump’s boasts related to the first impeachment effort launched by Democrats in 2020. At that time, Mr Trump faced allegations of improperly pressuring Ukraine’s president into opening a criminal investigation into Joe Biden, with the intent of causing political damage to his 2020 rival.
At a Senate trial, Mr Trump was acquitted along near party lines, though one member of the GOP broke ranks and voted for his removal from office. But according to Mr Pratt’s retelling of his talks with the president, the now-infamous phone call between Mr Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky was just the tip of the iceberg.
“Trump said, ‘You know that Ukraine phone call? That was nothing compared to what I usually do,’” Mr Pratt is heard saying on the audio.
It’s hard to say what other outlandish demands Mr Trump could have been making to world leaders, or whether the entire claim is just another one of Mr Trump’s boasts that did not correspond to reality. But the obvious implications behind the reported remarks clash quite severely with how Mr Trump has described his call with the Ukrainian leader, which he often refers to as “perfect” and totally above board.
America’s first lady is treated like an object
Easily the most controversial accusation leveled by Mr Pratt in the recordings relates to a conversation he supposedly had with Mr Trump at Mar-a-Lago, alongside other guests and Mr Trump’s wife, Melania.
According to the Australian billionaire, the ex-US president bragged in front of his wife about parading Melania around in a bikini “so all the other guys could get a look at what they’re missing.”
Melania, quick with a jab in response, supposedly shot back: “I’ll do that when you walk around with me in your bikini.”
None of this is surprising — or proven
While all of the above revelations from Mr Pratt are well within the known boundaries of Donald Trump’s character, it should be noted that this is all second-hand information, albeit from a source with no known grudge or animosity towards the US ex-president.
Mr Trump, for his part, has lashed out at Mr Pratt as a “weirdo” on social media, likely guaranteeing that any access the billionaire had at Mar-a-Lago has just ended.
He didn’t deny any of the claims made by Mr Pratt in the leaked audio. He did, however, dispute the ABC News report which claimed that Mr Pratt had told special counsel Jack Smith of the Department of Justice — as well as a number of his own confidantes — that Mr Trump had discussed US nuclear submarine capabilities with him.
If nothing else, Mr Pratt is one more credible voice in the chorus accusing Mr Trump of being careless with US military secrets. Whether those accusations will result in Mr Trump actually being held accountable for wrongdoing? That remains, for now, unclear.