President Donald Trump called on the Australian prime minister and other foreign leaders to help discredit the origins of the Mueller inquiry. The news comes as Democrats subpoenaed Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
US President Donald Trump recently asked the Australian prime minister and other foreign leaders to provide Attorney General William Barr with information to help discredit the inquiry by special counsel Robert Mueller.
The request to Prime Minister Scott Morrison was made during a recent telephone call with Trump, according to The New York Times, which cited two unnamed US officials. A transcript of the telephone conversation was restricted to just a small group of aides, echoing the tight restrictions surrounding Trump's July telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
The Australian government confirmed early Tuesday to state broadcaster ABC that a conversation between Trump and Morrison had taken place.
"The Australian government has always been ready to assist and cooperate with efforts that help shed further light on the matters under investigation," ABC quoted a government spokesperson as saying.
According to an official from the US Justice Department, the call with Morrison was one of several the president had made for the attorney general as part of the investigation into the origins of the original FBI probe into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential race. Trump has often referred to the Mueller inquiry as "a political witch hunt."
Democrats subpoena Giuliani
Earlier, US Democrats issued a subpoena to Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump's personal lawyer, for Ukraine-related documents as part of an ongoing presidential impeachment probe.
Documents posted on the House Oversight and Reform Committee website said Giuliani had until October 15 to produce the required information.
"Our inquiry includes an investigation of credible allegations that you acted as an agent of the president in a scheme to advance his personal political interests by abusing the power of the office of the president," the committee chairmen said in a letter to Giuliani on Monday. "You stated more recently that you are in possession of evidence — in the form of text messages, phone records and other communications — indicating that you were not acting alone and that other Trump administration officials may have been involved in this scheme."
Giuliani later questioned the legitimacy of the subpoena in a tweet, saying it had only been signed by Democratic chairs "who have prejudged the case." This, he said, "raises significant issues concerning legitimacy and constitutional and legal issues."
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and the heads of two other panels are seeking all communications by Giuliani and three other attorneys related to the US president's alleged effort to pressure the Ukrainian president to launch "politically-motivated investigations" against Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
Giuliani's name appears in the transcript of the controversial phone conversation between the US and Ukrainian presidents.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump railed against Schiff, suggesting he be arrested for treason for distorting the July 25 conversation with Zelenskiy. "Adam Schiff made up a phony call and he read it to Congress and he read it to the people of the United States and it's a disgrace," he said.
In those comments, Schiff said the call to Zelenskiy "reads like a classic organized crime shakedown" and parodied the president's remarks.
During the same press conference, Trump said "we're trying to find out" the identity of the whistleblower who alerted authorities to the Trump-Zelenskiy call. Over the weekend, lawmakers expressed concern for the person's safety.
Pompeo took part in phone call: reports
News of the subpoena came as The Wall Street Journal reported that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took part in the July phone conversation between Trump and Zelenskiy. On Friday, Pompeo was also issued a subpoena for documents related to the Ukraine scandal.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, said Monday that Senate rules would require him to take up any articles of impeachment against Trump if approved by the House, refuting talk that the Republican-controlled body would try to sidestep the matter.
"I would have no choice but to take it up," McConnell said on CNBC. "How long you're on it is a whole different matter."
Support for impeachment growing
Registered US voters remain divided on whether the president should be impeached, but support for his impeachment is growing. A recent poll from Quinnipiac University shows 47% of registered voters believe Trump should be impeached and removed from office, while 47% say he should not.
A week before, it was 37% for impeachment and 57% against.
In the CNN poll conducted with SSRS, 47% said Trump should be impeached and removed from office, an increase from 41% in May.
kmm/cmk (AFP, Reuters)