Report: ‘Australian tip-off‘ triggered Trump Russia probe

By – The Washington Times – Sunday, December 31, 2017

The federal investigation into possible connections between the Kremlin and ’s presidential campaign began after a tip-off from Australia, The New York Times reports.

During a May 2016 gathering in London, campaign aide told an Australian diplomat that Russia had political “dirt” on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The discussion between and the diplomat, Alexander Downer, occurred during what the paper alleged was “a night of heavy drinking.”

Two months later, Australian officials passed ‘ admission to U.S. counterparts after leaked Democratic Party emails began appearing online, according to the newspaper, which cited multiple current and former U.S. and foreign officials.

The information reportedly was cited as a major factor in the FBI’s decision to open a counterintelligence investigation into Kremlin s with the Trump campaign.

Besides the Australian tip, the FBI probe was driven by intelligence provided by other friendly governments, including Great Britain and the Netherlands, The New York Times reported.

On Oct. 30, pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents about s with people who claimed to have ties to top Russian officials.

Court documents unsealed two months ago show he met in April 2016 with Joseph Mifsud, a professor in London who told him about Russia’s cache of emails. The meeting occurred before the Democratic National Committee became aware of the scope of the intrusion into its email systems by hackers later linked to the Russian government.

The White House has played down the former aide’s campaign role, saying it was “extremely limited” and that any actions took would have been on his own.

The New York Times, however, reported that , a Chicago-based international energy lawyer, helped secure a meeting between then-candidate and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, and edited the outline of ’s first major foreign policy speech in April 2016.

The federal investigation, which is being led by special counsel Robert Mueller, has hung over the Trump White House for months. Some allies have recently accused Mr. Mueller’s team of being biased against the Republican president.

’s White House attorney, Ty Cobb, declined to comment on the report.

“Out of respect for the special counsel and his process, we are not commenting on matters such as this,” Mr. Cobb said in a statement.

Mr. Mueller has charged four associates, including , who is a cooperating witness.

Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, have repeatedly denied interfering in the U.S. election. also has repeatedly denied collusion between his campaign and Moscow.

⦁ This article is based in part on wire service reports.


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