AG Bill Barr distances himself from Ukraine controversy

Ever since Robert Mueller’s probe came to a conclusion, and no charges related to collusion or obstruction were issued, Democrats have accused Attorney General Bill Barr of acting more like President Donald Trump’s personal attorney than the head of the Justice Department, and that accusation has only intensified throughout the ongoing impeachment charade over the Ukraine matter.

With respect to Ukraine, the Democrats’ accusation against Barr stems from the fact that the attorney general was mentioned multiple times in Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. But Barr just made it clear that, aside from being mentioned, he has played no role in the Ukraine situation, the Washington Examiner reported.

“Smart enough not to get involved”

Barr’s brief comments on Ukraine came during a lengthy conversation at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council meeting on Wednesday, where he largely spoke about the recently released inspector general’s report on FISA abuse by the FBI, the FBI’s 2016 investigation into the Trump campaign, and other matters of pressing importance to the Justice Department.

“I was smart enough not to get involved with Ukraine,” Barr said, according to the Politico.

With respect to the assertion that he had been tasked to investigate Hunter Biden’s dealings with a corrupt Ukrainian energy firm known as Burisma Holdings, the attorney general said doing so “hadn’t reached the top of my to-do list.”

Barr mentioned in July call

According to the rough transcript of the July 25 call, Barr was first mentioned in relation to Trump’s request that Ukraine look into alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election, particularly with respect to the hacked Democratic National Committee’s email server, which was purportedly in the possession of a Ukrainian-affiliated tech company known as Crowdstrike.

A few moments later, Barr was mentioned again along with Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, insofar as the president intended to have both lawyers get in touch with Zelensky. Trump then mentioned the Biden dealings and asked Zelensky to have his people cooperate with the attorney general in delving further into the topic.

Barr, along with Giuliani, was mentioned yet again later with respect to the recalled U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, and a fired Ukrainian prosecutor, and then once more near the end of the call as Trump reiterated that he would have Barr and Giuliani make contact with Zelensky’s people in the near future.

No dealings with Giuliani on Ukraine

But based on the attorney general’s remarks on Wednesday, it appears there was no follow-through in that regard.

“I’ve had no dealings with Ukraine,” Barr said, “and I’ve had no dealings with Rudy Giuliani about Ukraine.”

He went on to say that it remains unclear to him whether the requested investigations in Ukraine that Trump highlighted in his call were even a matter in which U.S. investigators would have the authority to become involved.

Despite Barr’s apparent distancing of himself from the Ukraine controversy, Democrats will undoubtedly continue to insist that he was deeply involved. Whether anything of substance comes from that remains to be seen.

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