Attorney General William Barr finds himself facing questions about his role in President Donald Trump’s outreach to Ukraine and the administration’s attempts to keep a whistleblower complaint from Congress, the Associated Press reports. Trump repeatedly told Ukraine’s president in a telephone call that Barr and Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani could help investigate Trump’s Democratic rival Joe Biden. Justice Department officials say Barr was unaware of Trump’s comments at the time of the July 25 call. When Barr did learn of that call a few weeks later, he was “surprised and angry” to discover he had been lumped in with Giuliani, said a source.
Giuliani represents Trump’s personal interests and holds no position in the U.S. government, raising questions about why he would be conducting outreach to Ukrainian officials. Barr is the nation’s top law enforcement officer and leads a Cabinet department that traditionally has a modicum of independence from the White House. To Trump, there often appears to be little difference between the two lawyers. “I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it,” Trump told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Kathleen Clark, a legal ethics professor at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, said Trump is treating the country’s attorney general as if he’s just another personal lawyer. “I think it represents a larger problem with President Trump,” she said. “To him, it appears Giuliani and Barr both have the same job.” Barr has come under the scrutiny of congressional Democrats, who have accused him of acting on Trump’s personal behalf more than for the justice system.