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Trump pushed Australia’s prime minister to help Barr investigate Mueller probe origins: report


President Trump urged Australia’s top politician on a recent phone call to give Attorney General William Barr a hand in an investigation the president hopes will undermine the conclusions of special counsel Robert Mueller, according to a report Monday.

Trump asked Prime Minister Scott Morrison to assist in the Justice Department’s ongoing review of the Mueller probe, which looked into the president’s connections to Russia and Moscow’s illegal attempt to get him elected in 2016, two U.S. officials familiar with the call told The New York Times.

The White House kept transcripts of the Trump-Morrison chat under tight wraps, only allowing a small group of the president’s top aides to review them, the sources said.

The revelation comes as House Democrats are ramping up an investigation into whether to impeach Trump over a July 25 phone call during which he attempted to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into investigating Joe Biden, the Democratic Party’s 2020 front-runner. Transcripts of that call were similarly stored on a secret computer server, according to an anonymous whistleblower complaint released last week.

According to the whistleblower, Trump told Zelensky that Barr would play a large role in that prospective investigation as well, underscoring the president’s view of the attorney general as an extension of his political interests.

Also Monday, sources revealed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on the July 25 call with Zelensky. Pompeo had previously said he opposed the public release of details about the Zelensky call.

A spokesman for Morrison confirmed that his phone call with Trump took place, but didn’t elaborate on what was discussed.

“The Australian government has always been ready to assist and cooperate with efforts that help shed further light on the matters under investigation,” the spokesman said.

Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec also declined to discuss details, but said Barr has asked Trump to connect him and U.S. Attorney John Durham — who leads the Mueller probe review — with “appropriate” channels.

“Mr. Durham is gathering information from numerous sources, including a number of foreign countries,” Kupec told the Daily News. "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.”

The request could have put Morrison in an awkward spot as Trump was essentially asking the Australian leader to launch an investigation into his own intelligence community.

Mueller was appointed special counsel in large part because Australian officials told the FBI they had obtained intelligence suggesting Russian operatives were trying to make inroads with the Trump campaign about releasing damaging information on Hillary Clinton before the 2016 election.

Trump has long held that Mueller’s investigation was a “witch hunt" and claims without evidence that it was launched out of political animus.