Updated Nov 7, 2019

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

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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Exclusive: Three Democratic senators use another FOIA request to get Trump-Ukraine info

Sen. Kamala Harris speaks to voters in Iowa. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris, Richard Blumenthal and Sheldon Whitehouse requested documents and communications from the Justice Department on Nov. 8 related to President Trump's reported call for Attorney General Bill Barr to hold a press conference exonerating the president of any wrongdoing on the July 25 Ukraine call, according to a letter first given to Axios.

“These reports raise serious concerns about the president’s perception of the Justice Department as a partisan political instrument and his willingness to use the power of federal law enforcement in pursuit of his own objectives."
— Sens. Kamala Harris, Richard Blumenthal and Sheldon Whitehouse in a Nov. 8 letter
Go deeperArrowNov 9, 2019

Trump: When I asked Ukraine to "do us a favor," I meant the U.S.

President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a Sept. 25 meeting in New York. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

As House Democrats step up their impeachment inquiries, President Trump sought to clarify via Twitter Wednesday night the context of his infamous July 25 phone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart, President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Go deeperArrowDec 5, 2019

Trump denies sending Giuliani to Ukraine to dig up dirt on political opponents

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump denied sending his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine to dig up information on his political rivals, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Giuliani has publicly said that he investigated concerns over 2016 Ukrainian collusion and corruption on behalf of the president. Federal prosecutors are now investigating Giuliani's actions in Ukraine. Trump's demand that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, over unsubstantiated corruption allegations is at the center of the ongoing House impeachment inquiry.

Go deeperArrowNov 27, 2019