President Donald Trump said that a report claiming he asked Attorney General William Barr to hold a press conference saying the president did nothing illegal in his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was false.
“Bill Barr did not decline my request to talk about Ukraine. The story was a Fake Washington Post con job with an ‘anonymous’ source that doesn’t exist,” Trump said in a statement on Nov. 7.
“Just read the Transcript. The Justice Department already ruled that the call was good. We don’t have freedom of the press!”
The Department of Justice said in late September, shortly after a whistleblower complaint about the call was beginning to be reported on, that Trump did not violate campaign finance law when he asked Zelensky to look into allegations of corruption by former vice president Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.
Biden last year said that in 2016 he threatened to withhold $1 billion in aid from Ukraine unless prosecutor Viktor Shokin was ousted. Shokin was probing Burisma, an energy company that employed Hunter Biden from 2014 to 2019.
“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,” Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said in a statement.
“All relevant components of the Department agreed with this legal conclusion, and the Department has concluded the matter.”
Trump on Thursday accused the Washington Post of making up a story. The paper is among a number of media outlets consistently publishing stories about the president based on anonymous sources.
“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!” the president said.
The paper cited “people familiar with the matter” in its claim that Trump wanted Barr to hold the press conference.
Those same people said that Barr declined to hold the conference, the Washington Post alleged.
White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said in a statement in response to the story: “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.”
Gidley was the only person the lengthy story quoted on the record regarding the allegations.
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Author: Zachary Stieber