Australia's Prime Minister said Wednesday that his country is unlikely to provide the United States with internal government communications with an Australian diplomat partly responsible for triggering the FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.
President Donald Trump recently asked Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other foreign leaders to help US Attorney General William Barr with an investigation into the origins of the Russian investigation that was triggered in part by a tip from an Australian diplomat, Alexander. Downer
Morrison said he agreed to cooperate with the inquiry during a telephone conversation with Trump last month.
But Morrison indicated that Australia is unlikely to provide Downer diplomatic communications on the matter to US investigators.
"It would be very unusual and Australia would never do anything that would harm our national interest," Morrison told Sky News Australia.
The revelation this week that Trump called on world leaders for help in Barr's investigation underscores the extent to which the president remains consumed by the investigation of special attorney Robert Mueller and the ways in which he used the United States government apparatus to investigate what he did. believe me. they are their politically motivated origins. He also highlights Barr's practical role in conducting this investigation, including traveling abroad for personal meetings with foreign law enforcement officials.
Trump's interactions with foreign leaders – and Barr's role in these discussions – are under closer scrutiny now that the US House of Representatives has launched an impeachment investigation against the president. The investigation focuses on Trump's liaison this summer with the Ukrainian president, revealed by a CIA intelligence officer, where Trump presses for help in investigating Democrat Joe Biden.
The Australian ambassador to Washington had formally offered Australia's help in the investigation in May.
Morrison described his September phone call with Trump on Wednesday as an "uneventful conversation."
"The president contacted me and asked for a point of contact between the Australian government and the US lawyer, which I was happy to do based on the fact that we were already committed to doing so," Morrison said.
"I think it would be frankly more surprising if we had chosen not to cooperate," he added.
Morrison said Trump did not formulate the request as a "favor."
"I had a lot of talks with the president and it was a very brief conversation, and it wasn't one that I would characterize as pressure laden," Morrison said.
"It was a very polite request for something that the Australian government had already made very clear that we were happy to do," Morrison added.
The opposition questioned whether Morrison is drawing Australia into a domestic political battle in the US and demanded a transcript of the telephone conversation.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne said whether a transcript was made public is a question for the United States.