How Bill Barr Turned the Justice Department Into a Cover-up Operation for Trump
During a now-infamous July phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, Donald Trump paired his request that Ukraine open an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden with a very specific recommendation: that Zelensky get in touch with attorney general William Barr, too. “Whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great,” Trump said, according to the White House’s notes of the conversation. He wrapped up the conversation by promising to have Barr call Zelensky soon. “We will get to the bottom of it,” he said. “I’m sure you will figure it out.”
For the whistleblower who filed a complaint about the call—a complaint that just launched the fourth presidential impeachment inquiry in U.S. history—the invocation of the nation’s chief law enforcement officer was an alarming development. “Attorney General Barr appears to be involved as well,” they wrote.
It isn’t clear whether Trump actually looped Barr into this effort to coordinate with a foreign head of state on a clandestine probe of his political rival, and the Department of Justice has flatly denied Barr’s knowledge or involvement. But the whistleblower’s report alleged that this was not the first time White House lawyers concealed politically sensitive records of Trump’s conversations, and lawyers in Barr’s Justice Department stymied efforts to transmit that report to Congress. Once again, Barr finds himself involved in a presidential cover-up—or now, as Nancy Pelosi put it, the “cover-up of a cover-up,” too.