PM insists tip-off won’t hurt partnership
MALCOLM Turnbull has insisted Australia's relationship with the United States will not be damaged by the revelations a tip-off from senior diplomat Alexander Downer led to the FBI investigation into Russian influence in the US election.
The Prime Minister refused to comment on reports a boozy night in London with Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos sparked Mr Downer to pass on information about Russia having a dirt file on Hillary Clinton.
Mr Turnbull said he had not spoken to anyone in the US government about the revelations and he was confident it would not impact on relations between the two governments.
"The government won't be making additional comments on a matter that relates to an ongoing investigation in the US, so we've got nothing further to add to that," Mr Turnbull said.
He said he was also not concerned about the US not appointing a new ambassador to Australia.
"Chargé d'Affaires James Carouso is doing a fantastic job. In due course an ambassador will be appointed," Mr Turnbull said.
"In the American system, there is often delays in appointing ambassadors when a new administration comes in.
"But it's not a matter of concern, the relationship is in excellent shape and the connections between Australia and the United States are so diverse, numerous and so strong, and indeed our relationship through the State Department is excellent as well."
Mr Papadopoulos reportedly told Mr Downer, the Australian High Commissioner to the UK, that Moscow had a dirt file on Ms Clinton, and was shopping it around, at an up-market London bar in 2016.
Mr Downer, foreign minister in the Howard government, is believed to have passed the information on to Australian officials, and it was then relayed on to US officials three weeks later.
The tip from Mr Downer is reported to be a major factor in the FBI starting its investigation, which has since been taken over by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Mr Trump has accused Mr Mueller's investigation of bias against his administration.