One of the oft-repeated myths underlying the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry was the allegation that Attorney General Bill Barr was instructed by President Donald Trump to team up with Ukraine to try to dig up “dirt” on a potential 2020 competitor, former Vice President Joe Biden.
As it turns out, Barr never asked Ukraine to look into the Bidens. Ukraine’s top prosecutor, Ruslan Ryaboshapka, said that no such joint investigation was ever launched, much less requested by the attorney general, according to the Financial Times.
Barr mentioned in Trump-Zelensky call
The allegation against Barr stems from the fact that his name was mentioned in the July 25 phone call between President Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky that is at the heart of the impeachment effort.
In the call, Trump had asked Zelensky to take a look at potential corruption involving then-Vice President Joe Biden pressuring the prior Ukrainian administration to fire a prosecutor who was investigating Burisma, an energy firm that also employed his son Hunter Biden in a highly-paid board position.
Around the time that the call transcript was released, a number of Democrats jumped to demand that the attorney general recuse himself from the Ukraine matter, Politico reported in September.
“The President dragged the Attorney General into this mess. At a minimum, AG Barr must recuse himself until we get to the bottom of this matter,” House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) tweeted in September.
Others went so far as to demand Barr be impeached and removed from his position altogether.
Barr not involved
But the Justice Department pushed back on the whole notion. “If you are asking separately if the President has asked the AG to investigate Biden, the answer is no,” spokeswoman Kerri Kupec told Politico in September.
Ryaboshapka’s comments appear to support the Justice Department’s statement, as reported by the Financial Times:
Asked about a potential probe focusing on the Bidens and their connection with Ukrainian energy company Burisma, Mr. Ryaboshapka said Mr. Trump’s attorney-general William Barr had made no contact to formally request a joint investigation.
Schiff releases report
On Tuesday, the House Intelligence Committee released a 300-page report, written by Democratic staffers, alleging “overwhelming” evidence of Trump’s “misconduct” — though Committee chairman Adam Schiff stopped short of specifically recommending impeachment.
The White House seems unworried. Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham stated, “At the end of a one-sided sham process, Chairman Schiff and the Democrats utterly failed to produce any evidence of wrongdoing by President Trump. This report reflects nothing more than their frustrations. Chairman Schiff’s report reads like the ramblings of a basement blogger straining to prove something when there is evidence of nothing.”
House Republicans released their own report on Monday, accusing the Democrats of a partisan effort to impeach a duly elected president. “The Democrats’ impeachment inquiry is not the organic outgrowth of serious misconduct; it is an orchestrated campaign to upend our political system,” they wrote.