Diplo­mat’s tip a fac­tor in FBI’s Rus­sia probe

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - NATION/POLITICS -

WASHINGTON — An Aus­tralian diplo­mat’s tip ap­pears to have helped per­suade the FBI to in­ves­ti­gate Rus­sian med­dling in the U.S. elec­tion and pos­si­ble co­or­di­na­tion with the Trump cam­paign, The New York Times re­ported Satur­day.

Trump cam­paign ad­viser Ge­orge Pa­padopou­los told the diplo­mat, Alexan­der Downer, dur­ing a meet­ing in Lon­don in May 2016 that Rus­sia had thou­sands of emails that would em­bar­rass Demo­cratic can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton, the re­port said.

Downer, a for­mer for­eign min­is­ter, is Aus­tralia’s top diplo­mat in Bri­tain.

Aus­tralia passed the in­for­ma­tion on to the FBI af­ter the Demo­cratic emails were leaked, ac­cord­ing to The Times, which cited four cur­rent and for­mer U.S. and for­eign of­fi­cials with di­rect knowl­edge of the Aus­tralians’ role.

“The hack­ing and the rev­e­la­tion that a mem­ber of the Trump cam­paign may have had in­side in­for­ma­tion about it were driv­ing fac­tors that led the FBI to open an in­ves­ti­ga­tion in July 2016,” the news­pa­per said.

White House lawyer Ty Cobb de­clined to com­ment, say­ing in a state­ment that the ad­min­is­tra­tion is con­tin­u­ing to co­op­er­ate with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion now led by spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller “to help com­plete their in­quiry ex­pe­di­tiously.”

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