Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison denied being pressured by President Donald Trump to help probe the origins of the Justice Department’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Morrison said Wednesday he had a brief telephone conversation with Trump a couple of weeks ago, in which the president asked for a point of contact within the Australian government to help Attorney General William Barr with the inquiry.
In an interview with Sky Television, Morrison said he was happy to provide that, given the fact Australia’s ambassador to the U.S. had already made a written offer of help to Barr in May. It would have been “quite extraordinary” to deny such a level of cooperation, Morrison said.
Morrison has come under fire from opposition politicians in Australia, which has questioned whether he granted special favors to Trump shortly before he was feted at a White House state dinner last month. The phone call was revealed earlier this week by the New York Times, which said the president urged Morrison to assist Barr in his efforts to undercut Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry.
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