U.S. Attorney General William Barr should be investigated for his role in the Ukraine affair after new evidence has come to light about the extent of his involvement, according to a formal complaint filed by a nonprofit and non-partisan government accountability watchdog.
“Based on information that has come to light during and after Trump’s impeachment trial,” the latest complaint filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is focused on Barr’s “oversight of the Ukraine whistleblower complaint which appears to be part of a larger pattern of conduct to place Trump’s personal political interests above the Constitution, laws, and ethical principles,” a press release announcing the complaint says.
Filed with Acting Director and Chief Counsel of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) Jeffrey Ragsdale and DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, the 11-page complaint requests a “review” to conclude if Barr’s “failure to recuse resulted in” DOJ “mishandling” the initial intelligence community whistleblower complaint that eventually snowballed into the failed impeachment-and-removal drama.
“An investigation is necessary to determine if Attorney General Barr’s failure to recuse not only violated applicable ethics laws and regulations, but also whether his involvement compromised the integrity and independence of DOJ’s inquiry into the whistleblower complaint,” CREW’s filing argues.
The Wednesday complaint comes on the heels of a previous letter addressed to both Horowitz and Ragsdale in October of last year which detailed a laundry list of concerns about Barr’s impartiality—and alleged lack thereof.
The latest open letter notes:
Since that letter, new evidence has emerged that sheds additional light on Attorney General Barr’s knowledge and involvement in the Ukraine Pressure Campaign. Witnesses have come forward with reports that Attorney General Barr was “on the team” of those involved with the Ukraine Pressure Campaign as it was happening, and that indicate he was personally contacted former National Security Advisor John Bolton to discuss concerns about President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and the Ukraine Pressure Campaign. These developments are further evidence of Attorney General Barr’s disqualifying conflict of interest on matters related to the whistleblower complaint.
“Since CREW filed its October 7 letter, two major witnesses—a key associate of Mr. Giuliani, Lev Parnas, and former National Security Advisor John Bolton—have offered relevant information that provides new details about Attorney General Barr’s knowledge and involvement in the Ukraine Pressure Campaign,” the complaint continues later on.
Specifically, CREW points to Parnas’s January interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow in which the indicted Ukrainian-Floridian former business associate of Rudy Giuliani dished on Barr’s involvement with the Ukraine quid pro quo. During that interview, Parnas claimed Barr was “basically on the team” and that the attorney general “absolutely” must have spoken with Giuliani personally about efforts to secure a statement regarding alleged corruption by the Biden family in exchange for pre-authorized military aid.
Similiar accusations against Barr—this time sourced to Bolton’s poorly-selling tell-all—are also cited by CREW in their complaint. Essentially arguing that Barr and Giuliani appear to have been on the same “team” and page—thereby undercutting the attorney general’s ability to act as a neutral and impartial official viz. the whistleblower. The Wednesday letter concludes:
Attorney General Barr continues to place his loyalty to President Trump’s personal political interests above his responsibilities to the American people to uphold the Constitution, the law, and ethical principles. With new reports that Attorney General Barr was “on the team” of those involved with the Ukraine Pressure Campaign and had been consulted by Mr. Bolton about Mr. Giuliani’s conduct and the Ukraine Pressure Campaign, it is imperative that your offices fully investigate Attorney General Barr’s participation in the whistleblower complaint and related DOJ matters to determine whether he violated applicable ethics laws and regulations. Your offices should further review whether Attorney General Barr’s conduct compromised DOJ’s decision-making process and undermined the integrity and independence expected of our nation’s principal law enforcement agency.
Read the full complaint below:
[image via BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images]