"It's a Criminal Enterprise": Calls to Impeach Barr Intensify After Reports AG Pressured Foreign Officials to Help Discredit Mueller Probe

October 1st 2019

 
President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr ( The United States Department of Justice )

President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr (The United States Department of Justice)

By Jake Johnson

Common Dreams

Calls for U.S. Attorney General William Barr to be impeached alongside President Donald Trump intensified late Monday in the wake of reports that Barr has pressured British, Italian, and Australian intelligence officials to help the administration discredit former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

The Washington Post reported Monday night that Barr in recent weeks "has held private meetings overseas with foreign intelligence officials seeking their help in a Justice Department inquiry that President Trump hopes will discredit U.S. intelligence agencies' examination of possible connections between Russia and members of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election."

Just last week, according to the Post, Barr traveled to Italy to urge that country's intelligence officials to assist the inquiry into the Mueller probe.

The Justice Department confirmed in a statement Monday that Barr asked the president to connect him with foreign officials to gather information about the Mueller inquiry.

The Post story came shortly after the New York Times reported that Trump, at Barr's request, asked Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison during a recent phone call to help the U.S. attorney general "gather information for a Justice Department inquiry that Mr. Trump hopes will discredit the Mueller investigation."

"The White House curbed access to a transcript of the call... to a small group of aides," the Times reported, citing an anonymous official. "The restriction was unusual and similar to the handling of a July call with the Ukrainian president that is at the heart of House Democrats' impeachment inquiry."

The new revelations detailing Barr's close involvement with Trump's efforts to deploy the resources of the Justice Department for his own personal political interests sparked demands that the attorney general face impeachment proceedings as well.

"This isn't a presidential administration, it's a criminal enterprise," tweeted 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro. "The evidence is clear: both Trump and Barr must be impeached."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), also a 2020 Democratic presidential contender, said "Trump is committing crimes from the Oval Office. He must be impeached—and every single person involved must be held accountable."

As Common Dreams reported last month, progressives called for Barr's ouster following news that the Justice Department refused to investigate Trump's July phone call with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky, during which the U.S. president pressured Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

The call and whistleblower complaint it sparked led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to launch a formal impeachment inquiry into the president.

"I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it," Trump told Zelensky, according to a memo of the call released by the White House. "I'm sure you will figure it out."

According to the Times, Trump's conversations with Zelensky and Morrison of Australia show "the extent to which Mr. Trump views the attorney general as a crucial partner: The president is using federal law enforcement powers to aid his political prospects, settle scores with his perceived 'deep state' enemies, and show that the Mueller investigation had corrupt, partisan origins."

As MoveOn's Karine Jean-Pierre put it on Twitter Monday night, "Bill Barr decided a long time ago that he was going to be a fixer for Donald Trump. Donald Trump's personal lawyer."

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