Trump pressures Australian leader to help probe Mueller probe's origins


The discussion was another example in which the president used American diplomacy to gain potential personal benefits.

President Trump pressured the Australian Prime Minister during a recent phone call to ask Attorney General William P. Barr gather information for a Department of Justice investigation that Trump hopes to discredit Muller's investigation, according to two US officials with knowledge of the call.

The White House restricted access to a transcript of the call, which the president gave to a small group of assistants, at Mr. Barr's request, one of the officials said. The ban was unusual and was similar to a July call with the Ukrainian president who is at the center of a political trial investigation by House Democrats.

Like that call, Trump's discussion with Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison shows that the president uses high-level diplomacy to promote his personal political interests.

Discussions with Mr. Morrison suggest that Mr. Trump considers the Attorney General an important partner: the president is using federal law enforcement powers to help his political approach, the "darker states." Resolves the score with his alleged enemies and proves that Muller's investigation had a corrupt and biased origin.

Justice Department investigation and President Rudolf W. A parallel but cut off an attempt by Giuliani's personal lawyer represents a war on two fronts. Trump said Barr could help him validate the 2016 election victory and Giuliani in anticipation of the 2020 race as former Vice President Joseph R. Trying to uncover harmful information about Biden.

As part of his efforts, Mr. Barr has asked the president in recent months to facilitate communication with foreign officials and, according to a department official, has made at least one trip to Italy to ensure cooperation. The investigation is investigating US intelligence and police activity around Trump's campaign and whether it was legal.

Mr. Trump began discussions with Mr. Morrison in recent weeks with the aim of requesting Australia's help in the review, according to two people with knowledge of the discussion.

In making the request, several of Mr. Barr, Mr. Trump was asking the Australian government to investigate itself. F.B.I. Investigative officials began an investigation into Trump's ties to Russian electoral intervention in 2016 when Australian officials reported that Russian middlemen had proposed to Trump advisers about disclosure of information that would harm Hillary Clinton's campaign.

Prominent Australian diplomats in Britain met in London on May 2016 with Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who exposed the Russian offer of dirt on Mrs. Clinton.

Mr. Papadopoulos also said that he had heard from an academic named Joseph Mifsud that the Russians had "thousands" of Mrs. Clinton emails. Mr. Mifsud, who was last seen working as a visiting professor in Rome, has disappeared. Trump's allies, including Giuliani, have submitted an unproven claim that Western intelligence agencies engaged Mifsud to capture Papadopoulos.

Barr met with Italian government officials on Friday in Italy. Justice Department spokesman Kerry Kupek did not say whether he spoke about the election investigation or about Mr. Mifsud.

"At the request of Attorney General Barr, the President has contacted other countries," Kupcke requested presentations from foreign officials to investigate the Justice Department led by United States Prosecutor John H. in Connecticut. Durham has done.

As he did with Mr. Morrison, Mr. Trump told officers that the Department of Justice planned to contact his law enforcement agencies, a Justice Department official said.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley tried to focus on Trump's political opponents in a statement. "Democrats obviously don't want to know the truth, because it might hurt them politically, but this call is that of a D.O.J. Research announced publicly months ago is exactly what happened," Girdle he said.

On Monday night, a spokesman for Mr. Morrison said that "the Australian government has always been willing to help and cooperate in efforts that shed more light on the issues under investigation."

Mr. Barr has played an active role in overseeing Mr. Durham's work, US officials said and is pressuring his team to move forward as soon as possible, according to others investigating. Mr. Durham needs to go through a long process of identifying key witnesses and obtaining documents or other material from foreign governments, a lawyer said of the case.

F.B.I. of Durham Agents involved in the Trump campaign investigation said investigators in Therese Durham were acquaintances, other current and former intelligence outside the C.I.A. Some officials have also been questioned, people said.

But Mr. Durham has given the presentHowever, according to people in his team, there have been talks with the agency about interviewing some of them.

The Justice Department's review of the Russian investigation is not in itself a criminal investigation. Mr. Durham does not exercise powers of law enforcement such as citing documents or force witnesses. He has the right to read the documents that the government can acquire without sub-acquisition and question the witnesses who voluntarily accept the interview.

The Justice Department said last week that the extent to which law enforcement officials were watching in other countries, including Ukraine, "played a role in the retaliation aimed at Trump's campaign." At the very least, Mr. Barr has made it clear that he sees his work trampling the fragile territory: how allied intelligence and law enforcement agencies share information with US officials.

Current and former Justice Department officials said that it would not be illegal or retaliatory for Trump to ask world leaders to cooperate with Barr. And it is within Mr. Barr's powers to speak to foreign officials to enforce the law that his prosecutors want.

George J., who served as Mr. Barr as deputy attorney general during his first term as attorney general in the 1990s. Terwilliger III said, "There is nothing wrong with the president about assisting the foreign leader in the US investigation."

He said: "The request for help with the President's weight behind him is destined to attract more and more foreign attention."

But others criticized Mr. Barr's active role in the Durham investigation. During the Obama administration, Department of Justice spokesman Matthew Miller stated, "It would be highly unusual for the Attorney General to personally participate in any investigation.

Miller added, "It is even more unfair to engage with the president when the entire investigation is such that the president repeatedly asks for accounts with those he sees as enemies."

The report by Special Counsel Robert S. Muller III, which completed the Russian investigation, confirmed that Australia played a central role in the genesis of the F.B.I. investigation. More and more about the pre-election period, the episode is subjected to a conspiracy marble counterattack: the Australian administration, under the Obama administration's extensive effort to help Ms. Clinton, to spy on Trump's campaign for Alexander Sent to a downer. Elected.

There is no evidence to support that claim, but it was conspired by some of the president's allies in Congress, by Fox News commentators, and by Mr. Papadopoulos, who was jailed for lying to FBI agents. The theory is developed about contact between Trump's campaign and Russian middlemen.

Morrison met with Trump in Washington this month for official meetings and a state dinner at the White House. Mr. Brar attended the dinner and Justice Department officials met with Australian representatives during the visit.

The attorney general sparked controversy in April when he told lawgivers that "espionage" on Trump's campaign occurred as part of the Russia investigation and was a "failure among a group of leaders" in the intelligence community.

He later announced that he was reviewing the genesis of the Russia investigation, and Trump said in May that he wanted Brar to investigate the countries he accused of damaging 2016 election expectations. The conspiracy was hatched. The President said that he hoped that Mr. Barr would see the United Kingdom, and I hope he sees Australia, and I hope he sees Ukraine. "

"I hope you see everything because there was a hoax in our country," Trump said.

According to a letter published on Monday, the Australian ambassador to the United States wrote to Mr. Barr that "Australia will do everything possible to support its efforts in this matter."