According to a new report from The Washington Post, President Donald Trump asked Attorney General William “Bill” Barr to hold a press conference and declare that he had broken no laws during his July telephone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The idea was floated on Sept. 25, the same time that Trump released a transcript detailing what the two leaders discussed during their now-controversial conversation, according to the report, according to the Washington Examiner.
Democrats announced their impeachment inquiry earlier this fall after an individual believed to be a CIA employee filed a whistleblower complaint about the substance of the call, although it wasn’t until last week that the House finally held a vote to formalize the process, according to NPR.
“Nothing but respect”
While Barr is said to have declined Trump’s request for a public declaration of innocence, the White House maintains that there is no rift between the two and that they remain on good terms, according to the Post.
“The President has nothing but respect for AG Barr and greatly appreciates the work he’s done on behalf of the country — and no amount of shady sources with clear intent to divide, smear, and slander will change that,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley stated, according to CNBC.
Trump went a step further in fighting back against the report, tweeting: “The degenerate Washington Post MADE UP the story about me asking Bill Barr to hold a news conference. Never happened, and there were no sources!
Durham probe unaffected
Meanwhile, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has been striving for months to counter any impression that the Ukraine whistleblower controversy has had any sort of disruptive impact on the ongoing investigation into the origins of the Trump–Russia collusion probe.
“A Department of Justice team led by U.S. Attorney John Durham is separately exploring the extent to which a number of countries, including Ukraine, played a role in the counterintelligence investigation directed at the Trump campaign during the 2016 election,” spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in September.
She went on: “While the Attorney General has yet to contact Ukraine in connection with this investigation, certain Ukrainians who are not members of the government have volunteered information to Mr. Durham, which he is evaluating.”
Though Barr is well known for his belief in the importance of a strong presidency, Kupec continued to try and put some distance between the Justice Department and impeachment-related issues and emphasize the independent nature of the DOJ.
“The president has not spoken with the attorney general about having Ukraine investigate anything relating to former Vice President Biden or his son,” she said shortly after the transcript of the July phone call was released.
“The president has not asked the Attorney General to contact Ukraine — on this or any other matter. The Attorney General has not communicated with Ukraine — on this or any other subject. Nor has the Attorney General discussed this matter, or anything relating to Ukraine, with Rudy Giuliani,” Kupec added.