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In the Hot Seat: William Barr

Barr was 'surprised and angry' that President Trump had dragged him into this
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 29, 2019 4:15 PM CDT
In this Sept. 9, 2019 file photo, President Donald Trump, left, shakes hands with Attorney General William Barr, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
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(Newser) – As Washington plunges into impeachment, Attorney General William Barr finds himself engulfed in the political firestorm, facing questions about his role in President Trump's outreach to Ukraine and the administration's attempts to keep a whistleblower complaint from Congress, the AP reports. Trump repeatedly told Ukraine's president in a telephone call that Barr and Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani could help investigate Trump's Democratic rival Joe Biden, according to a rough transcript of that summertime conversation. Justice Department officials insist Barr was unaware of Trump's comments at the time of the July 25 call. When Barr did learn of that call a few weeks later, he was "surprised and angry" to discover he had been lumped in with Giuliani, says a person familiar with Barr's thinking.

Barr is the nation's top law enforcement officer and leads a department that traditionally has some independence from the White House. Yet to Trump, there often appears to be little difference between Barr and Giuliani. "I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it," Trump told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to the transcript. Barr has come under the scrutiny of congressional Democrats who accused him of acting on Trump's personal behalf more than the justice system's. Democrats have also called on him to step aside from decisions on the Ukraine matter. Those close to Barr, however, say there would be no reason to do so because he was unaware of the Trump-Zelensky conversation.

(Read more William Barr stories.)

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