Australia is finally ready to acknowledge its role in being the catalyst for the Trump-Russia investigation, according to a new report.
President Donald Trump has frequently (and incorrectly) claimed that the Russia investigation, aspects of which looked into his campaign for possible instances of collusion with the Kremlin, was started by a salacious dossier compiled by a former British spy.
Those allegations, the Associated Press and other outlets reported over the course of the investigation conducted primarily under the direction of special counsel Robert Mueller, were flat-out wrong.
Rather than having been started due to elements within the dossier compiled by Christopher Steele, it was revealed in December 2017 by the New York Times that a meeting in England, between Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos and former Australian diplomat Alexander Downer, started it all.
Australia Says It's "Ready To Confirm" A Key Meeting That Led To The Investigation Into Trump's Russia Links https://t.co/9y23z6cdxX
— Claude Taylor (@TrueFactsStated) April 18, 2019
Up until this point, Australia has denied any involvement in the matter. But after 15 months of freedom of information inquiries by BuzzFeed News, and on the day that Mueller’s report is set to be made public, Australian officials are finally admitting that the meeting did indeed happen, which set in motion the investigation of Trump and his campaign.
“I have again reviewed these matters and, while standing by the validity of the original decisions at the time they were made, the Department has reassessed its position in relation to Mr. Di Stefano’s three requests in light of the recent conclusion of the U.S. Special Counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election,” an Australian official said in a statement.
“[T]he Department is now ready to confirm that a meeting occurred between Mr. Downer and Mr. Papdopolous (sic), on 10 May 2016, whilst Mr. Downer was High Commissioner to the United Kingdom,” that official added.
The meeting between Papadopoulos and Downer took place at a London bar, and allegedly involved heavy drinking between the two. Papadopoulos had reportedly bragged to Downer that he had intel that Russia had “dirt” on Trump’s Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.
When Wikileaks began publishing Clinton’s emails on its site, Australian officials reached out to their American colleagues to tell them about the meeting, which led to investigators taking the first steps toward opening an official investigation.
The complete, albeit redacted, Mueller report is set to be released at 11 a.m. Eastern Time on Thursday.