Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he plans to send a letter asking countries to cooperate with the Justice Department’s (DOJ) probe into the origins of the counterintelligence probe into the Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
During an appearance on Fox News’s Sean Hannity, Graham criticized a report by The New York Times that stated President Donald Trump had “pressed” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to help Attorney General William Barr’s probe into origins of the Russia investigation. The report, which was published on Sept. 30, cited two anonymous U.S. officials.
“This New York Times article about Barr talking to Australia is the beginning of an effort to shut down Barr’s investigation to find out how this whole thing started,” Graham said during his appearance on Sept. 30.
“Barr should be talking to Australia. He should be talking to Italy. He should be talking to the UK to find out if their intelligence services worked with our intelligence services improperly to open up a counterintelligence investigation of Trump’s campaign. If he’s not doing that, he’s not doing his job.
“So I’m going to write a letter to all three countries and asking them to cooperate with Barr.”
Following the report, a number of details emerged that conflict with the New York Times’ insinuation that Australia had been “pressed” by Trump to cooperate with Barr.
A letter addressed to Barr, shared by a reporter from Australian news outlet Nine on Sept. 30, showed that Australia under the leadership of Morrison had reached out and expressed its willingness to support the DOJ’s probe. The letter was dated May 28 and sent by the ambassador of Australia to the United States, Joe Hockey, in response to the president’s comments that he hoped Barr’s team would “look at” Australia, and also the UK and Ukraine, “because there was a hoax that was perpetrated on our country.”
“The Australian government will use its best endeavors to support your efforts in this matter,” Hockey wrote in the letter. “While Australia’s former high commissioner to the UK, Alexander Downer, is no longer employed by the Government, we stand ready to provide you with all relevant information to support your inquiries.”
An Australian government spokesperson told The Epoch Times on Oct. 1: “The Australian government has always been ready to assist and cooperate with efforts that help shed further light on the matters under investigation.
“The Prime Minister [Scott Morrison] confirmed this readiness once again in conversation with the president.”
Meanwhile, DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec confirmed on Sept. 30 that Trump’s call to Morrison was done at the request of Barr for the purposes of the investigation.
“As the Department of Justice has previously announced, a team led by U.S. Attorney John Durham is investigating the origins of the U.S. counterintelligence probe of the Trump 2016 presidential campaign,” Kupec said.
“Mr. Durham is gathering information from numerous sources, including a number of foreign countries. At Attorney General Barr’s request, the president has contacted other countries to ask them to introduce the attorney general and Mr. Durham to appropriate officials.”
Barr appointed Durham to examine the origins of the Russia meddling investigation in early May and to determine if intelligence collection on the Trump campaign was “lawful and appropriate.”
Former special counsel Robert Mueller, who led the Russia investigation for more than two years, released a report in April concluding there was no collusion between Trump nor his campaign and Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.
During the interview, Graham brought up a 2018 letter written by his Democratic colleagues to ask Ukraine to cooperate with Mueller or else they would stop foreign aid to the country.
“So here’s what I want American people to know: It’s OK to cooperate with Mueller to get Trump but it’s not OK to cooperate with Barr to find out if Trump was the victim of an out-of-control intelligence operation. We’re not going to have a country like that,” Graham said.
Epoch Times reporter Mimi Nguyen-ly contributed to this report.