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Former US president Donald Trump has dismissed accounts of his conversations with Australian billionaire Anthony Pratt as “fake news” and insisted their discussions were focused on economic development.
A joint investigation by this masthead and 60 Minutes uncovered separate audio recordings of the billionaire talking about his relationship with “mafia”-like Donald Trump and his claim of a $1 million payment to Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
After recent allegations Trump had leaked classified US submarine fleet details to Pratt, the covert recordings reveal the billionaire claimed the former president also disclosed non-public details about US military action in Iraq and a private conversation with Iraq’s leader.
Trump did not respond to an inquiry from this masthead for comment but took to his Truth social platform to attack The New York Times′ reporting of the tapes.
“The Failing New York Times story … about a red-haired weirdo from Australia, named Anthony Pratt, is Fake News,” he wrote.
“I never spoke to him about Submarines, but I did speak to him about creating jobs in Ohio and Pennsylvania, because that’s what I’m all about – jobs, a great economy, low taxes, no inflation, energy dominance, strong borders, no endless wars, low interest rates, and much more.”
The New York Times meanwhile reported a statement from Trump saying the information on the tapes was coming from “sources which totally lack proper context and relevant information”.
Pratt gained access to Trump by spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on membership and event fees at the ex-president’s private Florida club, Mar-a-Lago.
Pratt is heard on the tapes simultaneously admiring and besmirching Trump and comparing him to a mafia figure “with balls” who uses henchmen to do his dirty work.
In claiming he had paid a fee of “about a million bucks” to Giuliani in return for the Trump lawyer attending Pratt’s birthday party, the Visy boss explained that “Rudy is someone I hope will be useful one day”.
This year, Trump and Giuliani were both charged with criminally subverting the 2020 presidential election.
Trump also defended his relationship with Pratt in his statement quoted on The New York Times.
“He’s a member of the most successful club in the country, Mar-a-Lago, and from a friendly country in Australia, one of our great allies,” Trump said.
“I don’t know him well, but he seemed like a nice person. He built a factory in Ohio and created American jobs, which I’m in favour of.”
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