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Politics

Trump denies he wanted Barr to publicly clear him

Donald Trump, William Barr
President Trump and Atty. Gen. William Barr in Washington in May.
(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

President Trump on Thursday denied a report that he wanted Atty. Gen. William Barr to hold a news conference to declare that the president broke no laws during a July phone call in which Trump pressed his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate Democrats.

Trump tweeted just after midnight that the story, first reported by the Washington Post, “is totally untrue and just another FAKE NEWS story with anonymous sources that don’t exist.”

And he continued to lash out at the press, declaring “The LameStream Media” to be the “Enemy of the People.”

The Post reported that Barr rebuffed the request, which came in September around the time the White House released a rough transcript of Trump’s July 25 call at the center of the House impeachment probe. The paper, citing unidentified people familiar with the effort, said the request was relayed from the president to White House officials and then to the Justice Department.

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House Democrats are investigating Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate political rivals as aid money was being withheld from the Eastern European country.

Trump insists he did nothing wrong.

“Just read the Transcript,” he wrote Thursday. “The Justice Department already ruled that the call was good.”

That appears to be a reference to a statement from the Justice Department in September announcing that the department’s Criminal Division “reviewed the official record of the call and determined, based on the facts and applicable law, that there was no campaign finance violation and that no further action was warranted.”

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Barr famously held a news conference ahead of the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into Russian election meddling. Barr painted what many saw as an overly flattering picture as it related to Trump and repeatedly declared investigators had found “no collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia, a point Trump had seized on to try to claim vindication.

Although the appearance drew praise from Trump, it caused alarm among critics already wary of Barr’s independence after he released a letter summarizing the reports’ conclusions that Mueller later complained “did not fully capture the context, nature and substance” of the full report and led to “public confusion about critical aspects of the results of” the investigation.


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