Alexander Downer
Alexander Downer

Downer interviewed over Russiagate

FORMER Australian foreign affairs minister Alexander Downer has reportedly told a US investigator he did not try to bring down Donald Trump during the 2016 US presidential election.

Mr Downer helped to start the FBI investigation into whether Mr Trump colluded with Russia to steal the election.

He passed on a tip from Mr Trump's adviser George Papadopoulos, whom he met in a London wine bar three years ago.

Mr Papadopoulos has previously claimed Mr Downer taped him and was probably an FBI spy.

Alexander Downer is embroiled in the Russiagate debacle. Picture: Ben Stevens/i-Images
Alexander Downer is embroiled in the Russiagate debacle. Picture: Ben Stevens/i-Images

US Attorney John Durham, tasked with investigating the origins of the probe into Russian influence in the election, is understood to have interviewed Mr Downer in London last month and reviewed a confidential Australian diplomatic cable to clarify Australia's role, The Australian reports.

Mr Durham is also believed to have interviewed Australian diplomat Erika Thompson, who arranged and ­attended the Downer-Papadopoulos meeting.

He is understood to have asked Mr Downer whether he knew Joseph Mifsud, the Maltese academic who told Mr Papa­dopoulos the Russian govern­ment had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton.

George Papadopoulos with his wife Simona Mangiante. Picture: Danny Moloshok, Moloshok Photography
George Papadopoulos with his wife Simona Mangiante. Picture: Danny Moloshok, Moloshok Photography

In an interview with Sky News on Sunday, Mr Downer dodged questions about his role in spurring the Russian collusion investigation.

Mr Downer said he would not talk about the meeting in London's Kensington Wine Rooms in 2016 which set off the chain reaction resulting in the investigation.

"There is now in the United States yet another inquiry into this and (Australian Prime Minister) Scott Morrison has said Australia will fully co-operate with that inquiry so that's what the government is doing and so the plan is to say nothing during the course of that inquiry," he said.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and then Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during the town hall debate at Washington University. Picture: Getty Images
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and then Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during the town hall debate at Washington University. Picture: Getty Images

"The answer is always going to be the same no matter what question."

Mr Downer went on to say that everything he did was for "team Australia".

The interview prompted Papadopoulos to take a swipe at Mr Downer.

In a post on Twitter, Papadopoulos called Mr Downer "the Clinton errand boy".

 

 

For more on this story see The Australian



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