Help From the Land Down Under

Yejin Lee '23

Recently, it had been revealed that Trump had contacted the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, for “help”. Similar to the Ukranian scandal, Trump went around searching for a little bit of information. He had pushed the Prime Minister to help investigate the Mueller inquiry. 


It was reported that Trump had called Morrison and asked him to help discredit any investigations that might show Russian interference in the 2016 elections. Previously, there were many speculations that the President had gotten some Russian help in changing the ballot, and whether that is true or not, it seems as though he is trying to cover something up. The Prime Minister was willing to help and claimed that Australia was ready to help even before Trump had even called. “We had said we were prepared to assist and cooperate in that investigation, which is not unusual, I mean the US is our most significant ally and we are used to sharing a lot of information,” Morrison stated. He claimed that this wasn’t against Australia’s national interest and it would’ve been more odd if they weren’t willing to help. The Trump administration and the Morrison government had been talking for months. On May 25, Trump said he wanted Barr to examine Australia’s role in setting off the FBI inquiry into links between Russia and his election campaign. Marise Payne, Australia’s foreign affairs minister, claimed the government was prepared to contribute to the Barr investigation. Australia’s ambassador, Joe Hockey, even wrote, “The Australian government will use its best endeavors to support your efforts in this matter.” Throughout the entire situation, Australia has continuously shown support for America and the President’s wishes.


The Mueller inquiry looked at whether Trump and Russia did collude in 2016 election, they delivered its report last year. However, Mueller testified in July to Congress that its implications continued. The inquiry started when George Papadopoulos, a former member of Donald Trump’s foreign policy advisory panel, told Australia’s former foreign affairs minister, Alexander Downer, about the interference, prompting Downer to report the situation to the FBI. According to Downer, over a night of heavy drinking Papadopoulos had told him that Russia had harmful information about Hillary Clinton from her emails. Russia had apparently stolen emails related to Clinton and had planned to release them so they could anonymously help Trump. But, Downer claims he had no idea about Trump’s and Morrison’s calls and said that his conversation with Papadopoulos was just that. Trump’s campaign officials also claim that they “could not recall” being informed by Papadopoulos that the Russians had hacked into the Clinton campaign. Papadopoulos also denied Downer’s account of these events but did say that Australia would cooperate with the US. 


“Bye, bye Downer”, he wrote on Twitter.


Morrison suggested that Downer’s choice to report what Papadopoulos had said to him was not unexpected and said it was not an issue. “I wasn’t there, it was some time ago, there is nothing to suggest that has been put in the public domain that there is any matter for Alexander Downer to address, nor am I aware of anyone suggesting any inappropriate behavior by him,” said Morrison. But, he also would not comment on whether a recording of the conversation Papadopoulos and Downer existed.


While Scott Morrison denied any account of being pressured to help Trump in investigating the Mueller inquiry, many people have criticized him, saying he needs to explain his actions. Though Morrison’s intentions for his country may be positive, his contribution to Trump’s demands might say otherwise. Morrison says Trump came to him with a “warm welcome” and will help him as much as he can. Trump says that “America takes care of our allies. And I think Australia is a good example. ” Whatever went on during their phone calls and what their involvement with the Mueller inquiry is unsure, but what can be sure is that they are certainly watching out for each other.