by WorldTribune Staff, September 26, 2018
A former Australian ambassador at the forefront of the Trump campaign investigation and ex-CIA chief John Brennan have sidestepped questions on whether U.S. intelligence agencies spied on the Trump campaign in 2016.
Australian Ambassador Alexander Downer was evasive during a recent BBC interview regarding suggestions made by Trump campaign volunteer George Papadopoulos that Downer may have been recording his conversations.
Downer told the BBC that the issue was “toxic,” and despite being pressed multiple times, still did not answer the question, saying, “in terms of public commentary, I just keep right away from it…Well, you know, it’s the same answer, really, people who know me know very well the truth of what sort of person I am…I’ve worked very passionately for Australia over many years, let’s leave it at that.”
The host then again asked, “Can we put to rest the fact that he said you were a spy?”
“I was the Australian high commissioner,” Downer said. “The thing is, I’m just not going to get into these sort of allegations he’s made. I mean, people who have worked with me, and people in Australia who know me, know absolutely my record.”
According to the FBI, it was the meeting between Papadopoulos and Downer in May 2016 that launched the bureau’s investigation into the Trump campaign.
Downer’s answers to the BBC’s questions “would be significant because they would reveal the extent of other nation’s efforts in cooperating with the FBI’s counterintelligence operation on President Donald Trump’s campaign,” U.S. officials told SaraACarter.com.
The information – if it was used – would be part of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant’s package of evidence presented to the secret court, one former and one current U.S. official told SaraACarter.com.
In a February interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd, Brennan was asked a similar question about information that may have been obtained from allied nations regarding Trump campaign officials.
Todd asked if “the Papadopoulos thing (came) through the CIA via the Five Eyes thing? That would have been a piece of information that gets to the FBI? Is that how that works?” The Five Eyes is an intelligence alliance comprising of Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and the United States to share intelligence gathered by each respective nation. As for the United Kingdom and the U.S. a separate and similar agreement exists dubbed “the Special Relationship,” which was established in 1946 and “allows the nation’s to share a lot of collected intelligence, among other things,” the former U.S. official added.
Brennan did not answer the question directly but instead stated, “Now I’m not going to get into details about how it was acquired. But the F.B.I. has a very close relationship with its British counterparts.” He continued, “And so the F.B.I. had visibility into a number of things that were going on involving some individuals who may have had some affiliation with the Trump campaign. And so the intelligence that we collected was pulsed against that. And I thought it would have been derelict if the F.B.I. did not pull the threads, investigative threads, on American persons who might have been involved with Russia and working on their behalf either wittingly or unwittingly.”
Papadopoulos stated only that Russia had derogatory information on then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, according to several interviews given by Downer.
Downer also stated in an interview with The Australian, “nothing [Papadopoulos] said in that conversation indicated Trump himself had been conspiring with the Russians to collect information on Hillary Clinton. It was just that this guy, [Papadopoulos], clearly knew that the Russians did have material on Hillary Clinton – but whether Trump knew or not,” Downer explained.
He told The Australian that Papadopoulos “didn’t say Trump knew or that Trump was in any way involved in this. He said it was about Russians and Hillary Clinton; it wasn’t about Trump.”