Another blockbuster development: In a new revelation underscoring Attorney General William Barr’s key role in Donald Trump’s efforts to use his government office to pressure foreign governments into assisting his own campaign needs, The New York Times is reporting that Trump asked Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to help Barr “gather information for a Justice Department inquiry that Mr. Trump hopes will discredit the Mueller investigation.”
A key detail: The Times reports that it was Barr who asked Trump to make the request of the Australian leader—evidence that Barr was himself active in a Department of Justice effort to “discredit” the Mueller probe.
Special counsel Robert Mueller detailed, at length, the role of the Russian government in the hacking of Democratic National Committee servers and in promoting propaganda intended to boost Donald Trump over his Democratic opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Trump has refused to acknowledge Russia’s role, and it now appears that he ordered a multi-department government probe intended to cast doubt on Russian involvement. (Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has now been reported to have listened in on the phone call between Trump and Ukranian President Zelensky.)
The Times also notes that Barr traveled to Italy last week to meet with Italian government officials: “The Justice Department spokeswoman would not say whether he discussed the election inquiry in those meetings.” Coordinated actions by Trump administration officials to discredit U.S. intelligence findings of the Russian government’s role in the 2016 elections may be far larger and more serious than Rudy Giuliani’s Ukrainian dealings first suggested.