Amid outrage from Democrats over his controversial phone call with Ukraine’s leader, U.S. President Donald Trump is set to face more backlash over his reported bid to seek help from Australia to investigate the origins of the former special counsel’s Russia probe.
According to The New York Times, Trump pushed Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to help gather information for an inquiry to discredit Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Citing two American officials familiar with the matter, the Times said the U.S. president initiated the discussion in recent weeks with Morrison explicitly to urge Australia to help Attorney General William Barr show that the Mueller investigation had “corrupt and partisan origins.”
Trump is currently facing an impeachment inquiry over a July 25 phone call during which he repeatedly asked Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, over unsubstantiated claims of corruption.
The elder Biden is the leading Democratic nominee heading into next November’s presidential election, making him a clear political rival to the president.
Trump has repeatedly maintained that the call was “perfect” and denied any sort of wrongdoing. The president has acknowledged the call and freezing aid to Ukraine just days before but denied he held up funding to pressure Zelensky, insisting there was no “quid pro quo” — a favor or advantage granted or expected in return for something.
The Wall Street Journal on Monday reported that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was among the administration officials who listened in on the July 25 phone call.
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