Attorney General Bill Barr has not spoken to President Donald Trump about Trump’s effort to get dirt on Joe Biden from Ukraine, the Justice Department asserted in a statement Wednesday.
The statement came minutes after the White House’s memorandum of Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky showed Trump encouraging him to make contact with Barr.
Trump, Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said in the statement, “has not spoken with the Attorney General about having Ukraine investigate anything relating to former Vice President Biden or his son.”
Trump, Kupec said, hasn’t asked Barr to contact Ukraine on any matter. Nor has Barr communicated with Ukraine, she said.
“Nor has the Attorney General discussed this matter, or anything relating to Ukraine, with Rudy Giuliani,” she continued.
The statement came shortly after the White House released its record of Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump repeatedly brought up his desire for Ukraine to look into Biden and said he would put Zelensky in touch with Barr and Giuliani, his personal attorney who’s sought out political dirt on Biden and other issues.
During the call, Trump repeatedly mentioned a smear against Biden that in recent months has been cultivated as a talking point by Giuliani.
According to the call record released by the White House, Trump brought up one particular attack, among others, that Giuliani has been pushing — that Joe Biden intervened in a Ukrainian investigation that dealt with a natural gas company, Burisma, on whose board Biden’s son, Hunter, sat.
“Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great,” Trump said, adding later: “Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me.”
However, it’s not true that Biden bragged of stopping a prosecution.
Rather, he bragged a couple years after the fact about successfully pressuring Ukraine for the resignation of its prosecutor general, who was widely seen as punting on cleaning up corruption in Ukraine after the country’s Maidan Revolution.
Giuliani has alleged that Biden pushed for the resignation because the prosecutor general was investigating Burisma. But the probe reportedly ended before the resignation, and there is no evidence of wrongdoing on Biden’s part.
Still, Giuliani has pushed the line and sought out dirt on the story that could be helpful to Trump. And, the record of the July 25 call shows, Trump repeatedly brought up the matter with Zelensky.
He also repeatedly says that he will put Barr and Giuliani in touch with Zelensky.
“I will tell Rudy and Attorney General Barr to,” Trump told the Ukrainian president, just before the call ended.