Letter Reveals Australia Willing To Help US Investigate Its Own Agency
US President Donald Trump pressed Prime Minister Scott Morrison to help discredit the Robert Mueller investigation, the New York Times reports.
What you need to know
- Donald Trump called Scott Morrison asking for help investigating the origins of the FBI investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia
- The Prime Minister's office confirmed the phone call
- Former foreign minister Alexander Downer helped triggered the initial FBI investigation
- Ambassador Joe Hockey wrote to US Attorney General in May
The phone call was initiated by Trump in recent weeks explicitly for the purpose of requesting Australia's help in the Justice Department review of the Russia investigation, the paper reports.
Details of the phone call were restricted to only a select number of senior officials, similar to Trump's handling of a controversial phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.
The Prime Minister's office confirmed the phone call this morning.
"The Australian Government has always been ready to assist and cooperate with efforts that help shed further light on the matters under investigation. The PM confirmed this readiness once again in conversation with the President," it said.
In the call, Trump reportedly asked for Australia's help in the Justice Department review of the FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump has long maintained the investigation was a "witch hunt".
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Australia's former foreign minister Alexander Downer helped trigger the initial FBI investigation, which paved the way for Mueller's probe.
He met with senior Trump campaign adviser George Papadopolous in London in May 2016, where he was reportedly told Russia had damaging information on Trump's political opponent Hillary Clinton.
Speaking to ABC Radio this morning, Downer said he knew nothing about the Morrison-Trump phone call.
"I don't know anything at all about conversations that Scott Morrison has had with Donald Trump, I'm afraid these days is not the sort of thing I'm privy to," Downer told Radio National.
The phone call shows the extent to which the US president sees the attorney general as a "critical partner" in his goal to show the Mueller investigation was corrupt and partition, the Times said.
In a letter dated May 28, Australian ambassador to the United States Joe Hockey said Australia would use its "best endeavours to support" to support Barr's investigation into the origins of the FBI probe.
"While Australia's former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, The Hon. Alexander Downer, is no longer employed by the Government, we stand ready to provide you with all relevant information to support your inquiries," Hockey said.