Donald Trump has described Anthony Pratt, one of Australia’s richest men, as a “red haired weirdo” as he lashed out at extraordinary reports about their personal conversations.
Earlier this month, reports suggested Trump had shared top-secret details of US nuclear submarines with Pratt, an Australian billionaire who runs the paper and packaging giant Visy.
New recordings and documents – reported by Australia’s Nine newspapers and 60 Minutes programme as well as the New York Times – have shed extraordinary further light on Pratt’s relationship with Trump and other key global and Australian figures.
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The reports suggest Pratt spent hundreds of thousands dollars on memberships at Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago resort, helping him cultivate a close relationship with the president and leading to regular private conversations between the pair.
The covert recordings and documents reportedly show:
In private conversation, Pratt claims Trump had told him in 2019 of ordering an airstrike on Iranian-linked militants in Iraq, before it hit the headlines, and said that Iraq’s president had called him to complain. Pratt says Trump responded: “I [Trump] said to him [Iraq’s leader], ‘OK, what are you going to do about it?’”
Pratt said Trump also told him about a phone call he made to Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskiy asking for him to investigate Joe Biden’s son Hunter. Trump said: “You know that Ukraine phone call, that was nothing compared to what I usually do.”
Pratt also said Trump pushed the boundaries in his dealings as president and that “he knows exactly what to say and what not to say so that he avoids jail … but gets so close to it … that it looks like to everyone that he’s breaking the law”.
Pratt boasted of paying “about a million bucks” to Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, to attend his birthday party. Giuliani didn’t attend but the pair spoke regularly on the phone. The recordings suggest Pratt said: “Rudy is someone I hope will be useful one day.”
Pratt had made a payment to then Prince Charles of $182,000 in 2021, according to documents cited by the Nine papers, and said: “My superpower is that I am rich. So I am useful to him [Prince Charles], right?” He also said of Charles: “What I’m trying to do is network with people who can be useful. Prince Charles said when he introduced me to Camilla, ‘He’s [Pratt] been very useful.’ And I thought, that’s an insult. And then I thought, it is better than being irrelevant” and “I see him as an undervalued political stock. It is just that he is a laughing stock now. But when he is king, [they] won’t be laughing.”
Pratt made consulting payments to former Australian prime ministers Tony Abbott and Paul Keating. Abbott was hired after losing his seat in 2019 on a retainer of $8,000 a month, the Nine newspapers reported, and Keating was receiving $25,000 a month.
Pratt says nothing in the recordings of hearing Trump speak about the US nuclear submarines.
But he says Trump has this “ability to say outrageous things non-stop”.
“He’s outrageous,” Pratt said. “He just says whatever the fuck he wants. And he loves to shock people.”
In response, Trump took to his preferred social media outlet, Truth Social, to describe the New York Times story as false.
He rejected the suggestion the pair had spoken about the US nuclear submarine fleet and its capabilities.
“The Failing New York Times story … about a red haired weirdo from Australia, named Anthony Pratt, is Fake News,” he posted.
“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!”
Trump amd Pratt have previously enjoyed a good relationship and in 2019 the then president helped open a new Pratt Industries plant in Ohio. Trump at the time called Pratt a “friend” and heaped praise on him.
“We’re here to celebrate a great opening and a great gentleman,” Trump said. “Anthony is one of the most successful men in the world – perhaps Australia’s most successful man.”
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In the recordings, Pratt appeared to praise Trump’s willingness to speak his mind, describing him as “shameless and fearless”.
“Can you imagine how yuck it would be to poke someone’s eyes out in a fight? So he does that but in life … He’s shameless and fearless. He’s got incredible balls,” Pratt said in one of the recordings.
Pratt recalled Trump speaking about his phone call to Zelensky, in which he applied pressure for Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden as Joe Biden ran for president.
According to Pratt, Trump said: “‘You know that Ukraine phone call, that was nothing compared to what I usually do.’ He said: ‘That Ukraine phone call, that’s nothing compared to what we usually talk about’.”
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Pratt was approached for comment via Visy, his paper and packaging company, but a response was not received by deadline.
Keating and Abbott were also approached for comment. Keating told the Nine newspapers his work for Pratt was well known.
“I do not advise Mr Pratt on commercial matters in Australia or abroad [or] … on government matters in Australia that may be relevant to him or his company. My advice is limited to big picture issues of the international kind.”
There is no suggestion that Pratt has engaged in any wrongdoing or that he is under investigation as part of the probe by special prosecutors in the US of Trump’s handling of confidential information.