Sunday, 04 Dec 2022

Documents reveal Australias efforts to stay neutral as Donald Trump claimed electoral fraud

Documents reveal Australias efforts to stay neutral as Donald Trump claimed electoral fraud


Documents reveal Australias efforts to stay neutral as Donald Trump claimed electoral fraud

A longtime US foreign policy official is frank when asked whether Australia should worry about risks to American democracy.

"I can't, with a straight face, say there's nothing to worry about," says Richard Fontaine, head of the Center for a New American Security, an influential Washington thinktank.

Visiting Canberra this week, he says: "I spent seven years of my life working in the US Senate, and I never in a million years thought that I would see a mob trying to overturn the certification of a presidential election by storming the US Capitol. It's unthinkable, but this is where we are. So there are certainly some reasons for concern."

New documents obtained by Guardian Australia show how Australia tried to avoid wading into controversy during that turbulent period by stressing its confidence in American institutions to ensure a peaceful transition of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden.

Australian officials were closely following news reports and monitoring statements by senior members of Trump's cabinet in the weeks after the then-president's refusal to concede defeat in the 2020 presidential election and in the period around the attempted insurrection at the Capitol building on 6 January 2021.

One briefing provided to Australia's then foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, in early January noted that Trump "has not conceded and continues to pursue legal challenges to electoral processes".

The briefing drew attention to a report in the Washington Post based on "an hour-long recording of a phone call between President Trump and Georgia's secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, the official responsible for administering the state's elections".

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