You just knew there had to be more.
As the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump pressuring the Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden’s son trudges on, the New York Times reports that Trump recently pressured Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to help Attorney General William Barr “gather information for a Justice Department inquiry,” which Trump “hopes will discredit the Mueller inquiry.”
Per the Times:
President Trump initiated the discussion in recent weeks with Mr. Morrison explicitly for the purpose of requesting Australia’s help in the Justice Department review of the Russia investigation, according to the two people with knowledge of the discussion. Mr. Barr requested that Mr. Trump speak to Mr. Morrison, one of the people said. It came only weeks after Mr. Trump seemed to make military aid to Ukraine contingent on Mr. Zelensky doing him the “favor” of helping Mr. Barr with his work.
In making the request, Mr. Trump was in effect asking the Australian government to investigate itself. The F.B.I.’s counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election began after Australian officials told the bureau that the Russian government had made overtures to the Trump campaign about releasing political damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
The Times’ reporting was sourced to “two American officials with knowledge of the call,” and a Justice Department official later confirmed it to NBC News:
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In the memo of the July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that the White House released last week, Trump asked Zelensky to “do us a favor” and investigate Hunter Biden. He did so just after withholding military aid from the Ukrainian government, although Trump has had multiple explanations for why.
We’ve reached out to the White House and the Australian embassy in D.C. for comment, and will update when and if we receive a response.
This is a developing story, and will be updated as more information becomes available.
Update, 5:40 p.m. ET: “The Australian Government has always been ready to assist and cooperate with efforts that help shed further light on the matters under investigation,” an Australian government spokesperson said in an email to Splinter. “The PM confirmed this readiness once again in conversation with the President.”