In the News

Politics Live Update: New York City Bar says Barr should recuse himself from Ukraine-related issues (The Washington Post)

The Washington Post, October 23, 2019

Politics Live Update: New York City Bar says Barr should recuse himself from Ukraine-related issues

“The New York City Bar Association on Wednesday called for Attorney General William P. Barr to recuse himself from any ‘ongoing or future review by DOJ of Ukraine-related issues’ and asserted that — if he does not do so — he should resign or face possible removal from his job by Congress.

In a strident statement, the association asserted that Barr ‘appears to view his primary obligation as loyalty to the President individually rather than to the nation,’ and that he had been ‘willing to take or countenance actions that are contrary to the professional standards of the DOJ, his oath of office and his own obligations as an attorney.’

The association said its concerns culminated when Barr did not recuse himself from review of a whistleblower complaint about a July 25 phone call in which Trump pressed his counterpart in Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.

A rough transcript of the call shows that Trump told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky he should work with Barr on the matter. The Justice Department reviewed the complaint to determine if it should open an investigation into whether campaign finance violations had been committed, but ultimately determined there was not sufficient predicate to do so.

That decision was made by Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski, though Barr was not recused from the matter and was aware of discussions about the whistleblower complaint and transcript, officials have said.

A Justice Department spokeswoman has said previously that Trump had never spoken with Barr ‘about having Ukraine investigate anything related to former vice president Biden or his son.’ Officials have said Barr only learned later, after the complaint made its way to the Justice Department, Trump had mentioned him on the call.

A Justice Department spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

While there is no public indication the Justice Department has continued its review of the whistleblower complaint, Barr has tasked a U.S. Attorney in Connecticut with running an investigation that could examine issues related to Ukraine. The U.S. Attorney, John Durham, is examining the origins of the FBI’s probe into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.”

Read more