President Trump and Attorney General William Barr are waging a multi-pronged, global campaign to push foreign countries to provide information that would discredit the Mueller investigation.
According to a report in the Washington Post, Barr has pressed intelligence officials from the United Kingdom and Italy for help with an inquiry into how the Trump-Russia probe began in 2016.
That effort reportedly included a trip to Italy that Barr took last week with former U.S. Attorney John Durham, who is conducting a review of how the Russia investigation began.
One unnamed U.S. official told the New York Times that Barr asked Trump to discuss the issue with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. U.S. officials reportedly moved a record of that call to the same highly classified system where the now-infamous July 25 Trump-Zelensky call was kept.
The Australian government issued a statement saying that its prime minister had confirmed the country’s “readiness” to help with the probe.
#breaking from federal government spokesperson: "The Australian Government has always been ready to assist and cooperate with efforts that help shed further light on the matters under investigation. The PM confirmed this readiness once again in conversation with the President."
— Andrew Greene (@AndrewBGreene) September 30, 2019
Barr’s — and, by extension, Trump’s — focus in holding the call with the Australian prime minister appears to center on the story of George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign aide and foreign policy adviser who drunkenly told an Australian diplomat in London in May 2016 that the Russian government had dirt on Hillary Clinton.
The Australian government reported the conversation to the FBI, a key factor that led the bureau to open a counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign in July 2016.
The opening of that inquiry is now the focus of Barr and Durham, the former U.S. attorney helming the inquiry.
As details of the Trump-Zelensky call broke last week and the House Intelligence Committee released a redacted version of a whistleblower complaint about the pressure campaign on Kyiv, Attorney General Barr was out of the country.
Barr was, in fact, on the trip to Italy, another country that holds significance in the universe of counternarratives to the Trump-Russia investigation. The Post reported that it was not his first trip to Italy in connection with the probe.
It was Rome-based Maltese professor Josef Mifsud who allegedly told Papadopoulos that Russia had obtained Clinton campaign emails — a tidbit that has led right-wingers to accuse Mifsud of being a spy planted by Western intelligence to entrap the Trump campaign aide.
House Democrats are investigating Trump’s unprecedented efforts to use U.S. foreign policy for his personal political gain in next year’s elections as part of their impeachment inquiry.