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Letter From Australian Official Emerges That Casts Doubt On Report From New York Times

By  Ryan Saavedra
DailyWire.com
William Barr, attorney general nominee for U.S. President Donald Trump, smiles during a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. Barr says he'd let Special Counsel Robert Mueller "complete his work" and that he'd provide Congress and the public as much of the findings in the Russia probe as possible
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A letter emerged late on Monday from the Australian government that directly disputed the accuracy of a New York Times report that claimed that President Donald Trump “pushed” Australia to help Attorney General William Barr investigate the origins of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation in an attempt to “discredit” the investigation in what The Times claimed was an example of Trump “using high-level diplomacy to advance his personal political interests.”

The letter, reported by Nine News Australia’s Kerrie Yaxley, is dated May 28, 2019, from Australian Ambassador Joe Hockey to Barr, and states:

Dear Attorney General,

I refer to President Trump’s announcement on 24 May that you will investigate the origins of the Federal Bureau of Investigations probe into Russian links to the 2016 US 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.

Yours sincerely,

The Hon Joe Hockey

The development comes after The New York Times tried to suggest that it was a scandal for Trump to ask for Australia to cooperate with an ongoing Department of Justice (DOJ) into the origins of the Russia investigation.

Shortly after The Times’ report was published, a source at the DOJ pushed back on it, telling Fox News: “The countries have been helpful. There was no pressing required.”

“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 was told,” the network added. “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.”

The flood of new information surrounding the DOJ’s investigation included new reporting from The Washington Post, which sought to cast Barr in a negative light for conducting his job, claiming that he was trying to help Trump “discredit” Mueller’s investigation.

“Barr’s personal involvement is likely to stoke further criticism from Democrats pursuing impeachment that he is helping the Trump administration use executive branch powers to augment investigations aimed primarily at the president’s adversaries,” the Post reported. “But the high level Justice Department focus on intelligence operatives’ conduct will likely cheer Trump and other conservatives for whom ‘investigate the investigators’ has become a rallying cry. Barr has voiced his own concerns, telling lawmakers in April that he believed ‘spying did occur’ when it came to the U.S. investigation of the Trump campaign.”

The new and relevant information from the Post’s report was the revelation that Barr has been in contact with British intelligence officials and has traveled to Italy as a part of the ongoing investigation.

“Barr has already made overtures to British intelligence officials, and last week the attorney general traveled to Italy, where he and Durham met senior Italian government officials and Barr asked the Italians to assist Durham, according to one person familiar with the matter,” the Post added. “It was not Barr’s first trip to Italy to meet intelligence officials, the person said. The Trump administration has made similar requests of Australia, these people said.”

In May, Trump said of Barr: “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.”

The DOJ’s investigation into the origins of the Russia probe is being led by U.S. Attorney John Durham.

The DOJ responded to recent news reports with the following: “A Department of Justice team led by U.S. Attorney John Durham is separately exploring the extent to which a number of countries, including Ukraine, played a role in the counterintelligence investigation directed at the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. While the Attorney General has yet to contact Ukraine in connection with this investigation, certain Ukrainians who are not members of the government have volunteered information to Mr. Durham, which he is evaluating.”

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