Sept. 25, 2019
On September 25, an official, declassified memoradum was released of a July conversation between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. It included an interaction in which the president enlists U.S. Attorney General William Barr as the main contact for Zelensky to use for assistance with an investigation of Trump’s political opponent and potential Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Trump also mentioned Hillary Clinton’s private email server, alleged by some to be in Ukraine.
In the President’s own words: “The other thing, there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me.”
Later in the call, President Trump adds, “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. I’m sure you will figure it out.”
Zelensky states, “In addition to that investigation, I guarantee as the President of Ukraine that all the investigations will be done openly and candidly. That I can assure you.”
The Office of the Attorney General is called on to “represent the United States in legal matters generally and [give] advice and opinions to the President and to the heads of executive departments of the Government when so requested.” President Trump’s use of the Attorney General in matters of campaign investigations against political opponents is an abuse of executive power and a violation of norms.
As “head of the Department of Justice and chief law enforcement officer of the Federal Government,” Attorney General Barr should uphold the rule of law and refuse to act outside of his obligation as a public servant of the American people. By engaging in any past or future conversation with Ukrainian President Zelensky concerning investigations into the current president’s political opponents, Attorney General Barr would be in violation of his duty.