Trump sought Australia’s help on Russia probe origins

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President Donald Trump speaks to member of the media as he departs a ceremonial swearing in ceremony for new Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Monday, Sept. 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump recently asked the Australian prime minister and other foreign leaders to help Attorney General William Barr with an investigation into the origins of the Russia probe that shadowed his administration for more than two years, the Justice Department said Monday.

Justice spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said Trump made the calls on Barr’s behalf.

“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,” Kupec said.

Trump was requesting help for U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation into the origins of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The investigation outraged Trump, who cast it as a politically motivated “witch hunt.”

Mueller wrapped up his report earlier this year with an inconclusive finding about Trump — the president was not charged with any crimes, but Mueller pointedly said he did not exonerate Trump. The president promptly called for an investigation into the origins of the Mueller probe.

Justice officials said that has involved seeking help from numerous foreign countries, including Australia. One official said Trump told Prime Minister Scott Morrison that the attorney general would be contacting his Australian counterpart.

The revelation comes amid new scrutiny of Trump’s dealings with foreign leaders. The House opened an impeachment inquiry into Trump that centers on a summertime call in which he pressed for help investigating Democrat Joe Biden.

Morrison’s office said in a statement, “The Australian government has always been ready to assist and cooperate with efforts that help shed further light on the matters under investigation.”

“The P.M. confirmed this readiness once again in conversation with the President,” the statement said, referring to Morrison.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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