House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler on Monday demanded Attorney General William Barr answer questions about the Justice Department’s “process” for receiving information about Ukraine.
The letter comes hours after Mr. Barr confirmed the Justice Department had established an intake process to scrutinize any information coming in about Ukraine, including tips offered by President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.
Saying it was a “significant departure” from the established channel the Justice Department uses to receive information, Mr. Nadler, New York Democrat, noted its existence contradicts previous statements by Mr. Barr.
Ukraine has been at the center of Democrats’ efforts to impeach Mr. Trump, who was acquitted by the Senate last week. Democrats say Mr. Trump’s prodding of the Ukraine president to investigate the activities of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son, Hunter in that country.
In September, the Justice Department said Mr. Barr had not discussed “anything relating to Ukraine” with Mr. Giuliani. The department also said Mr. Trump had not pushed the attorney general to investigate the activities of political rival and Mr. Biden and his son, Hunter, in Ukraine.
“To the extent that statement is no longer accurate, any official relationship between Mr. Giuliani and the department raises serious questions about conflicts of interest – both for the department, generally, and for you, specifically,” Mr. Nadler wrote.
Mr. Nadler asked the attorney general to describe the “intake process” for receiving tips from Mr. Giuliani and others; who is reviewing the process; how Ukraine tips are vetted, and communications between the department and Mr. Giuliani.
The attorney general has until February 25 to respond, Mr. Nadler said.
Hours earlier, Mr. Barr said the Justice Department has “open door” policy to anyone, including Mr. Giuliani, offering information on corruption in Ukraine.
But he cautioned that the department has to be very careful in vetting whatever is turned over. Mr. Barr said there are “a lot of agendas” in Ukraine and the department can’t take anything at face value.
“For that reason, we had established an intake process in the field so that any information coming in about Ukraine could be carefully scrutinized by the Department and its intelligence community partners so that we could assess its provenance and its credibility, and that is true for all information that comes to the department from Ukraine, including anything that Mr. Giuliani might provide,” Mr. Barr said.
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