March 11, 2020

Based on information that has come to light during and after Trump’s impeachment trial, CREW has filed a complaint against Attorney General William Barr for his oversight of the Ukraine whistleblower complaint which appears to be part of a larger pattern of conduct to place Trump’s personal political interests above the Constitution, laws, and ethical principles. CREW’s new complaint supplements its earlier one filed with the Department of Justice Inspector General on October 7, 2019 when CREW requested an investigation into Barr’s involvement in the Ukraine scheme, alleging that Barr’s failure to recuse from the inquiry could have violated ethics laws and regulations and may have compromised the integrity of the DOJ investigation.

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, who played a key role in the Ukraine scheme, has provided additional information on Barr’s involvement. In a January 2020 television interview, Parnas asserted that Barr was “on the team” of people involved with Giuliani’s efforts to obtain a public announcement from Ukraine about its investigation into Biden. Parnas also suggested that the Ukraine scheme was linked to Barr through U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation into the origins of the FBI’s Russia investigation. 

Additionally, revelations from a yet-to-be-released book by former National Security Advisor John Bolton reportedly details Bolton’s reaction to Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Bolton “raised” with Barr “his concerns about Giuliani, who was pursuing a shadow Ukraine policy, encouraged by the president, and told Barr that the president had mentioned him on the call.” This conversation further implicates Barr in the Ukraine scheme, raising serious questions about his failure to recuse. 

In addition, evidence that arose during President Trump’s impeachment hearings and trial lent further credibility to the whistleblower complaint, raising serious questions about DOJ’s handling of the complaint and whether Barr’s potential involvement may have tainted the Criminal Division’s decision-making process and undermined its investigation and enforcement process. 

CREW previously raised questions about public statements made by Barr indicating he has prejudged the outcome of DOJ investigations into the origins of the Russia investigation as well as providing favorable treatment to Trump’s associates. Given the new information about the extent of Barr’s possible involvement in the Ukraine scheme, the DOJ should complete a full investigation into Barr to assess the extent that his bias and conflict of interest potentially affected the DOJ’s handling of the whistleblower complaint.

Read the complaint here.