- President Donald Trump said Friday he hopes the attorney general looks at the roles played by the British, Australian and Ukrainian governments in the investigation of the Trump campaign.
- Trump called out the allied governments when asked about his decision to authorize Barr to declassify a slew of documents related to the origins of the Russia probe.
- “I hope he looks at everything,” Trump said of Barr.
President Donald Trump on Friday said he hopes Attorney General William Barr looks at intelligence the British, Australian and Ukrainian governments provided their American counterparts as part of the investigation of the Trump campaign.
“And I hope he looks at the U.K., and I hope he looks at Australia, and I hope he looks at Ukraine. I hope he looks at everything, because there was a hoax that was perpetrated on our country,” Trump told reporters of Barr.
Trump authorized Barr to declassify documents Thursday related to the FBI’s surveillance of the Trump campaign. He also instructed other federal agencies, including the CIA and FBI, to provide classified materials to Barr as part of an inquiry he is making into the government surveillance of the Trump campaign.
Barr has said while he believes “spying” occurred against the campaign, he wants to find out whether it was authorized and legal.
“[W]hat I’ve done is I’ve declassified everything,” Trump said Friday.
While Trump has repeatedly teased declassifying documents from the Russia probe, he has rarely identified foreign allies he believes should be scrutinized as part of an investigation of the surveillance activities against his campaign.
Trump’s comments are sure to ruffle feathers, especially since the U.K. and Australia are partners with the U.S. in the “Five Eyes” intelligence sharing agreement.
Both governments provided information to U.S. agencies regarding the Trump campaign’s possible links to the Russian government. But as the special counsel found, there was no conspiracy between the two sides to influence the 2016 election.
“It’s the greatest hoax, probably, in the history of our country. And somebody has to get to the bottom of it,” Trump said. “We’ll see.”
The Australian government in July 2016 sent the FBI information about Trump aide George Papadopoulos that would reportedly serve as the catalyst for a counterintelligence investigation of the campaign.
Alexander Downer, the top Australian diplomat to the U.K., claimed during a May 10, 2016, meeting with Papadopoulos in London, the young Trump adviser claimed that Russia might release information about Hillary Clinton.
Papadopoulos has disputed Downer’s claims, though he has admitted that two weeks earlier, a Maltese professor told him he had learned the Russian government had “thousands” of Clinton emails. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in the special counsel’s probe, but he did not face charges related to a conspiracy with Russia. He has denied viewing or disseminating any Clinton-related materials.
Downer has defended the Australian government’s decision to share the information with the FBI, saying he grew alarmed by Papadopoulos’s remarks after WikiLeaks began releasing DNC emails July 22, 2016.
British involvement in the counterintelligence probe is less direct.
The FBI relied heavily on a dossier authored by former British spy Christopher Steele to obtain surveillance warrants against Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
California Rep. Devin Nunes on Wednesday called on Trump to pose questions to British Prime Minister Theresa May regarding briefings that Steele gave to a top British intelligence official shortly after Trump was elected. The official, Sir Charles Farr, reportedly shared information from Steele with the directors of MI6 and MI5, the foreign and domestic intelligence services, respectively.
The British government also reportedly approved of an FBI operation to use an informant, Stefan Halper, to meet in London with Papadopoulos in September 2016. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: A London Meeting Before The Election Aroused George Papadopoulos’s Suspicions)
Halper also first met Page on British soil at a conference held in July 2016 at Cambridge University.
There have also been reports that GCHQ, the British equivalent of the National Security Agency, provided their American counterparts with signals intelligence of Trump associates.
Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for Trump, has recently pushed Ukraine’s possible role in providing information to Democrats regarding the Trump campaign. A DNC contractor reportedly met with Ukrainian embassy officials in 2016 and requested information on Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign chairman who was a consultant for former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.
The Daily Caller News Foundation has also reported a contractor for Fusion GPS claimed one source for the opposition research firm was Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian politician who led an investigation of Manafort.