Trump fumes about reports that he wanted Barr to host news conference clearing him on Ukraine call

Dylan Stableford
Senior Writer

President Trump is fuming over news first reported by the Washington Post that he wanted Attorney General William Barr to hold a press conference declaring that he had broken no laws during a phone call in which he pressed Ukraine’s new president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and Biden’s son.

According to the Post report, Barr denied the request for the news conference, which came sometime around Sept. 25, when the White House released a memo summarizing the president’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The Post story was subsequently confirmed by other outlets, including the New York Times and CNN.

The Post reported that it was not clear why Barr declined the request, but “from the moment the administration released the rough transcript, Barr made clear that whatever the president was up to, he was not a party to it.”

Trump insisted in a pair of late night tweets that he had not asked Barr for a press conference. 

“The story in the Amazon Washington Post, of course picked up by Fake News CNN, saying ‘President Trump asked for AG Barr to host a news conference clearing him on Ukraine,’ is totally untrue,” Trump tweeted shortly after midnight Thursday, “and just another FAKE NEWS story with anonymous sources that don’t exist.”

“The LameStream Media, which is The Enemy of the People, is working overtime with made up stories in order to drive dissension and distrust!” he added.

Trump was apparently still furious when he woke up.

Trump and Barr at the National Peace Officers Memorial Service in Washington, D.C., in May. (Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

“Bill Barr did not decline my request to talk about Ukraine,” the president tweeted at 7:28 a.m. ET. “The story was a Fake Washington Post con job with an ‘anonymous’ source that doesn’t exist. Just read the Transcript. The Justice Department already ruled that the call was good. We don’t have freedom of the press!”

(After the memo summarizing the call was released, Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said officials reviewed the call and determined there were no campaign finance violations and that “no further action was warranted.”)

Trump continued to stew about the story an hour later.

“The degenerate Washington Post MADE UP the story about me asking Bill Barr to hold a news conference,” Trump tweeted. “Never happened, and there were no sources!”

“Read the Transcript!” he added.

Trump wasn’t done.

“The Amazon Washington Post and three lowlife reporters, Matt Zapotosky, Josh Dawsey, and Carol Leonnig, wrote another Fake News story, without any sources (pure fiction), about Bill Barr & myself,” the president tweeted at 10:27 a.m. ET. “We both deny this story, which they knew before they wrote it. A garbage newspaper!”

The tweets come amid the ongoing impeachment inquiry that was triggered by the phone call, which was flagged by an anonymous intelligence community whistleblower who was troubled by Trump’s efforts to collect political dirt while withholding U.S. military aid to Ukraine.

Damning testimony from witnesses released this week corroborated some of the whistleblower’s account. The first public hearings in the impeachment probe will be held next week.

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