WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump pushed the Australian prime minister to help Attorney General William P. Barr gather information for a Justice Department inquiry that Trump hopes will discredit the Mueller investigation, the New York Times reported Monday.
Trump held a state dinner for Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sept. 20 and two days later met with him again in Wapakoneta when the two world leaders toured Pratt Industries, an Australian-owned company.
Trump’s overture was made during a telephone call, the Times reported, citing two American officials with knowledge of the call.
The White House restricted access to the call’s transcript to a small group of the president’s aides, one of the officials told the Times, an unusual decision that is similar to the handling of a July call Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. That call is at the heart of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into Trump.
A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on the latest development, the Times said.
In making the request, the Times reported Trump was in effect asking the Australian government to investigate itself. The FBI.’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.