Australia confirms Donald Trump phone call

Australia has confirmed Donald Trump called Scott Morrison to ask for help in the US Attorney General’s investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

An Australian government spokesman confirmed the conversation took place.

“The Australian government has always been ready to assist and co-operate with efforts that help shed further light on the matters under investigation,” the spokesman told AAP on Tuesday.

“The PM confirmed this readiness once again in conversation with the president.”

The New York Times reports the White House restricted access to the call’s transcript to a small group of presidential aides, according to one of two US officials with knowledge of the call.

Mr Trump was requesting help for a Justice Department investigation into the origins of Mr Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The president repeatedly labelled the investigation a “witch hunt”.

Australia’s high commissioner to the UK in 2016, Alexander Downer, played a significant role in sparking the initial FBI investigation in the Trump campaign and Russia.

“I don’t know anything at all about conversations Scott Morrison has had with Donald Trump. These days it’s not the sort of thing I’m privy to,” he told ABC Radio National.

Mr Downer met with George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign adviser who told him about damaging Russian information about rival Hillary Clinton.

“I had a conversation with this guy and I passed on one element of the conversation to the Americans. There’s just nothing more to it,” Mr Downer said.

“I know nothing about conversations about that Scott Morrison has had with the Americans, including President Trump, about this.”

Australia’s ambassador to Washington Joe Hockey wrote to US Attorney-General William Barr about his investigation into the origins of FBI’s probe into Russia.

“The Australian government will use its best endeavours to support your efforts in this matter,” he said in a May 28 letter.

He said while Mr Downer was no longer employed by the government, Australia stood ready to provide the investigation with all relevant information to the inquiry.

The federal opposition has called on the coalition to clarify the status of the investigation.

“Is this a formal law enforcement investigation?” Labor MP Tim Watts told Sky News.

“A formal counter-intelligence investigation into the former leader of a conservative political party in Australia? Into the fourth generation of a conservative political dynasty in Australia?

“Is this really what’s going on here? Is this what Scott Morrison has offered up in this conversation?”

Mr Trump’s call to Mr Morrison comes after revelations the US president called Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelensky to ask for help investigating Democrat presidential hopeful Joe Biden.

The US House of Representatives has opened an impeachment inquiry into Mr Trump centring on that call.


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