DOJ Declined To Act On Criminal Referral In Trump’s Ukraine Smear Campaign

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 1: U.S. Attorney General William Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee May 1, 2019 in Washington, DC. Barr testified on the Justice Department's investigation of Russian interferen... WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 1: U.S. Attorney General William Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee May 1, 2019 in Washington, DC. Barr testified on the Justice Department's investigation of Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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September 25, 2019 10:31 am
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A whistleblower’s complaint about President Trump’s conduct towards Ukraine prompted a criminal referral to the Justice Department, a DOJ spokesperson revealed on Wednesday. However, the Department decided not to act on the referral, which was sent to the DOJ by the director of national intelligence and the inspector general for the intelligence community according to the New York Times.

The referral suggested that Trump’s comments to Ukraine President Zelensky potentially violated campaign finance law, the Justice Department said.

The Justice Department “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,” the spokesperson Kerri Kupec said in statement.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the DOJ officials who were reviewing the referral did not include in their analysis of a potential campaign finance violation the suggestion that Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine as part of his pressure effort. DOJ officials, in their focus on the call record, determined that they could not identify a “thing of value” — a component of a campaign finance violation — that was discussed, Buzzfeed reported. 

In the call, according to the White House record of it released Wednesday, Trump asked Zelensky to work with his lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Attorney General Bill Barr to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and Biden’s son Hunter.

Kupec’s statement Thursday also denied that Barr discussed the Ukraine matter with Giuliani.

“The President has not asked the Attorney General to contact Ukraine – on this or any other matter,” she said.

Read the full statement below:

In August, the Department of Justice was referred a matter relating to a letter the Director of National Intelligence had received from the Inspector General for the Intelligence Community regarding a purported whistleblower complaint.  The Inspector General’s letter cited a conversation between the President and Ukrainian President Zelensky as a potential violation of federal campaign finance law, while acknowledging that neither the Inspector General nor the complainant had firsthand knowledge of the conversation.  Relying on established procedures set forth in the Justice Manual, 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.  All relevant components of the Department agreed with this legal conclusion, and the Department has concluded the matter.

Correction: A previous version of this story mistakenly described the referral as coming from the Justice Department inspector general. It came from the director of national intelligence and the inspector general for the intelligence community.

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