President Trump pushed Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in a recent telephone call to aid Attorney General Bill Barr with gathering information for a Justice Department probe into the origins of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, The New York Times and CNN report. The White House reportedly restricted access to the call’s transcript, which occurred weeks after Trump’s July 25 telephone call with the Ukrainian president. A source said Barr asked Trump speak to Morrison, which led to the president initiating the discussion.
One official told CNN that Barr asked the president to request help from several other countries. ABC News reports Barr asked Trump to introduce him to the leaders of Australia, Italy, and other countries. Trump had a Sept. 5 phone call with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, and Barr’s trip to Italy last week was reportedly part of the DOJ investigation into the Mueller probe’s origins. According to the The Washington Post, the man in charge of the DOJ’s probe, John Durham, accompanied Barr on the Italy trip and met with senior Italian government officials. The attorney general reportedly asked the Italians to assist Durham in the probe and has approached British intelligence officials about the matter.
By requesting the Australian government’s help in gathering information that he hoped would discredit the Mueller probe, Trump was in fact asking Australia to investigate itself. According to the Times, the FBI investigation that led to the Mueller probe was prompted by a tip from Australian officials—who told the agency the Russian government reached out to the Trump campaign about dirt it allegedly had on then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. The tip reportedly came about after George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, met with an Australian official in Britain and told him or her about the information Russia supposedly had.
The Justice Department confirmed that Trump had contacted other countries to aid with the DOJ’s probe and that Durham has been gathering information from other countries. “Mr. Durham is gathering information from numerous sources, including a number of foreign countries. At Attorney General Barr’s request, the president has contacted other countries to ask them to introduce the attorney general and Mr. Durham to appropriate officials,” a statement read.