President Donald Trump asked Australia's prime minister to help US Attorney General Bill Barr gather information for an inquiry intended to discredit the Mueller investigation, The New York Times reported on Monday. The newspaper, citing two unidentified US officials, said the request was made during a recent telephone call between Trump and the Australian leader, Scott Morrison.
The Times said the White House restricted access to the transcript of the call in a manner similar to what was done with Trump's recent call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
That call - during which Trump asked Zelensky to open an investigation into his potential 2020 Democratic presidential opponent Joe Biden - has led to the opening of an impeachment inquiry in the Democratic-led House of Representatives.
The US Justice Department is conducting an inquiry into the origins of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election - a probe which Trump has repeatedly denounced as a "political witch hunt."
The Times said Trump called Morrison to enlist his help in the US Justice Department review of the origins of the Mueller probe and asked him to speak to Barr.
The original FBI probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election was launched after the bureau received a tip from Australian officials, the Times said.
The FBI probe into Russian meddling and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia was taken over by Mueller after Trump fired FBI director James Comey.