Updated Nov 7, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Report: Barr declined Trump's request for news conference on Ukraine call

In this image, Trump and Barr stand in front of each other wearing suits in the Rose Garden.

Trump and Barr in the Rose Garden in July 2019. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Attorney General Bill Barr declined President Trump's request to declare via a news conference that the president "had broken no laws" during his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the Washington Post and ABC News reported Wednesday. Trump denied the report in a late-night tweet.

The big picture: The president's reported request, made "sometime around Sept. 25," coincides with the day the administration's released its memorandum of the Trump-Ukraine call, which helped launch an impeachment inquiry into the president.

  • According to the White House memo, Trump told Zelensky to work with Barr and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to look into allegations that former Vice President Joe Biden fired a Ukrainian prosecutor investigating his son Hunter Biden.

Details: It is not clear "how forcefully" the president’s request for Barr to hold a news conference was communicated and it traveled through White House officials before reaching the Department of Justice, per WashPost.

What they're saying: "The DOJ did in fact release a statement about the call and the claim that it resulted in tension because it wasn’t a news conference is completely false," a senior administration official tells Axios’ Alayna Treene.

  • The official said Trump praises Barr publicly and privately and did not explicitly confirm or deny if the president requested the attorney general to hold a news conference on the July 25 call.
  • The idea that Trump is "upset about a phantom request for a press conference is ridiculous," the official said.

Go deeper: Trump asked Ukraine to work with Giuliani, Barr to investigate Biden

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