Italy PM approved U.S. talks with secret services: report

Meet aimed to discredit claims of Trump-Russia link: report
Italy’s Prime Minister gave permission for a top U.S. official to meet Rome’s intelligence services as part of Trump-lead efforts to discredit claims he has ties with Russia, media reported on Wednesday. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte approved two meetings U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr held with spy chief Gennaro Vecchione, according to the Corriere della Sera, the country’s leading newspaper. Mr. Barr has reportedly had multiple contacts with officials and spies in Australia, Britain and Italy in a bid to investigate a probe, which concluded that Russia tried to swing the 2016 election in U.S. President Donald Trump’s favour. He first travelled to Rome in August to gather information the White House hopes will undermine the probe, Italian media said. He returned on Friday again to meet Mr. Vecchione just ahead of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s trip to Italy’s capital. Robert Mueller’s probe led to the conviction of several of Mr. Trump’s top aides for obstruction and lying to investigators. But ahead of the 2020 election, Mr. Trump has painted the investigation and its findings as a “deep state” conspiracy. Mr. Barr reportedly asked the Italian secret services to hand over any information they have on Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese professor at a Rome university suspected by the Americans of being an Italian or British-run spy. Mr. Mifsud is alleged to have promised Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager George Papadopoulos some dirt on Hillary Clinton.

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