Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Attorney General William Barr speaks at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. on July 15, 2019. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

'Impeach Barr, Too': Critics Demand Attorney General's Ouster for Refusing to Investigate Trump-Ukraine Call

"Terrible implications for our democracy if DOJ is saying that the solicitation of opposition research by a candidate from foreign governments is totally legal and totally cool."

Jake Johnson

White House critics said Wednesday that Attorney General William Barr should be impeached following news that the Justice Department declined to investigate President Donald Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky.

In late August, according to the Washington Post, intelligence officials referred Trump's call with Zelensky to the Justice Department as a possible campaign finance violation.

"Terrible implications for our democracy if DOJ is saying that the solicitation of opposition research by a candidate from foreign governments is totally legal and totally cool."
—Rick Hasan, University of California, Irvine

A White House memo (pdf) on the call released Wednesday confirmed reports that Trump asked Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and offered Barr's services.

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

The Justice Department ultimately decided not to investigate the conversation. In a statement Wednesday, DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said the department "reviewed the official record of the call and determined, based on the facts and applicable law, that there was no campaign finance violation and that no further action was warranted."

Buzzfeed, citing an anonymous senior Justice Department official, reported that the DOJ's Criminal Division determined "the information discussed on the call didn't amount to a 'thing of value' that could be quantified, which is what the campaign finance laws required."

Kupec said Trump "has not asked the Attorney General to contact Ukraine—on this or any other matter."

The Justice Department reportedly advised Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire to not release to Congress a whistleblower complaint involving Trump's Ukraine call.

Rick Hasan, professor of law and political science at the University of California, Irvine, called the Justice Department's conclusion "totally wrong."

"Even [former Special Counsel Robert] Mueller concluded opposition research is a thing of value for campaign finance purposes," Hasan tweeted. "Terrible implications for our democracy if DOJ is saying that the solicitation of opposition research by a candidate from foreign governments is totally legal and totally cool."

Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said the Justice Department's refusal to investigate the call "raises new questions."

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) said the memo on the U.S. president's call "is damning for Donald Trump and for those involved, including AG Barr." Lieu echoed House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler's (D-N.J.) demand that Barr recuse himself from all matters related to the Ukraine conversation.

The memo, tweeted Lieu, "confirms that Donald Trump requested a foreign power to investigate his political opponent, and it shows he wanted the Justice Department to also investigate his opponent, all to benefit his campaign."

"This is soooo illegal," Lieu said.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Watch: Bernie Sanders Hosts 'Saving American Democracy' Town Hall

"Republicans in state after state are working to make it harder and harder to vote. We can't let them succeed."

Common Dreams staff ·


As SCOTUS Considers 'Extinguishing' Right to Abortion, Calls Mount for Congress to 'Step Up'

"Despite the protections that the legal framework like Roe provides, it has never been enough," said one doctor. "We continue to work toward reproductive justice."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Time to Get the Job Done': Stacey Abrams Launches New Georgia Gubernatorial Bid

"Now more than ever, it's clear Brian Kemp's days as governor are numbered."

Brett Wilkins ·


US Must Tackle Marine Plastics Pollution 'From Source to Sea': Report

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine study found that the U.S. is responsible for about a quarter of the plastics that enter the world's oceans each year.

Brett Wilkins ·


First US Omicron Case Confirmed as WHO Chief Decries Failure to Share Vaccines Globally

Factors including low vaccine coverage have created "a recipe for breeding and amplifying variants," the top health official said.

Andrea Germanos ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo