Australia offered help in May for White House probe of Mueller inquiry

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia offered assistance in May for U.S. President Donald Trump’s investigation of the origins of a damning report about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a letter reviewed by Reuters shows.

The New York Times said Trump had asked Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison for the help, in hopes of discrediting Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s campaign to aid Trump in winning the 2016 national election.

An Australian government source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the two leaders spoke by telephone in September.

Trump’s request, however, was preceded by an Australian offer of help, with its ambassador to the United States, Joe Hockey, writing to U.S. Attorney-General William Barr in May to offer Canberra’s assistance.

“The Australian government will use its best endeavors to support your efforts in this matter,” Hockey wrote in a May 28 letter, referring to Trump’s May 24 announcement of plans to investigate the origins of the FBI investigation.

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