Startling evidence in the form of a letter from the Australian government has emerged that throws into dispute the accuracy of a claim made by The New York Times. The Times inferred President Trump was involved in a scandal by requesting Australia cooperate with the DOJ in investigating where the Russian probe originated.
According to the Times report, “President Trump pushed the Australian prime minister during a recent telephone call to help gather information for a Justice Department inquiry that Mr. Trump hopes will discredit the Mueller investigation, according to two American officials with knowledge of the call.”
A source from the DOJ spoke to Fox News after the Times article was published. “Attorney General Bill Barr asked President Trump to make introductions to foreign countries that might have had information pertinent to U.S. Attorney John Durham’s ongoing probe into possible misconduct by the intelligence community at the outset of the Russia investigation,” reports Fox News.
“The countries have been helpful. There was no pressing required,” said the DOJ official.
“The President was letting the heads of other countries know that the attorney general would be contacting the appropriate law enforcement entities in each country, according to the DOJ official. When Barr was in Italy last week, he did talk to law enforcement officials there about Durham’s review, Fox News reported,” adding, “The DOJ official also stressed that this has been a routine procedure in diplomacy and that Barr would not usually reach out to his direct counterpart in another country unilaterally. Instead, usually, there would be an introduction of sorts made at the head-of-state level.”
On May 24, President Trump spoke openly to reporters, saying he hoped Barr would take a look at various countries.
“But, for over a year, people have asked me to declassify,” Trump said. “So, what I’ve done is, I’ve declassified everything. He can look, and I hope he looks at the U.K., and I hope he looks at Australia, and I hope he looks at Ukraine. I hope he looks at everything because there was a hoax that was perpetrated on our country. It’s the greatest hoax.”
The letter, reported by Nine News Australia’s Kerrie Yaxley, dated May 28, 2019, from Australian Ambassador Joe Hockey to Barr, disputes the claim by the Times that the president “pushed” Australia. It reads:
“Dear Attorney General,
I refer to President Trump’s announcement on May 24 that you will investigate the origins of the Federal Bureau of Investigations probe into Russian links to the 2016 U.S. election.
I note that the President referred to Australia, the United Kingdom, and the Ukraine as potential stakeholders. Moreover, I note that he has declassified intelligence material to support your investigation.
The Australian Government will use its best endeavors to support your efforts in this matter. 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 the relevant information to support your inquiries.
The Acting White House Chief of Staff, The Honorable Michael Mulvaney, has been copied on this letter.
The Hon Joe Hockey”
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said: “I’m old enough to remember when Democrats actually wanted to find out what happened in the 2016 election. The Democrats clearly don’t want the truth to come out anymore as it might hurt them politically, but this call relates to a DOJ inquiry publicly announced months ago to uncover exactly what happened. The DOJ simply requested the president provide introductions to facilitate that ongoing inquiry, and he did so, that’s all.”