Attorney General William Barr confirmed on Feb. 10 that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is currently receiving and evaluating information on Ukraine, including from former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, as part of an “intake process,” while noting that officials have to be “very careful” about information coming from that country.
“The Justice Department has the obligation to have an open door to anybody who wishes to provide us information that they think is relevant.” Barr told reporters. “We can’t take anything we receive from the Ukraine 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.”
The procedure would assess the provenance and credibility of any information given to the DOJ, according to Barr.
“That is true for all information that comes to the department relating to the Ukraine,” Barr added, “including anything Mr. Giuliani might provide.” Giuliani is currently serving as President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer.
A day earlier, the chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), said the Justice Department was reviewing information from Giuliani pertaining to former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden as part of a new process.
“[Barr] told me that they’ve created a process that Rudy could give information and they would see if it’s verified,” Graham told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” program. “Rudy Giuliani is a well-known man … he’s a good lawyer. But what I’m trying to say to the president and anybody else, that the Russians are still up to it. Deterrence is not working.”
The news of the arrangement comes after Trump was acquitted on both articles of impeachment, ending the third impeachment trial in U.S. history. Meanwhile, three Republican-led Senate committees are investigating Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine and China.
Trump, during a phone call in July 2019, asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “look into” the firing of Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. Joe Biden has publicly boasted about forcing Shokin’s ouster by withholding $1 billion in loan guarantees from Ukraine. At the time, Biden’s son was receiving as much as $1 million per year to serve on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company under investigation by the prosecutor general.
Documents from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) that were reportedly provided to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), could be particularly illuminating. Public knowledge about Hunter Biden’s financial transactions has been limited to financial statements disclosed during the trial of his business partner, Devon Archer, who also served on the board of Burisma. The statements show Archer and Biden receiving more than $83,000 per month from Burisma starting in 2014.
When Graham was asked about his previous comments that Giuliani should come to the Judiciary Committee with any documents from Ukraine, he said the documents should be first looked over by intelligence, and that he doesn’t want to become a “Republican Christopher Steele.” Steele was the former British spy who produced an unverified dossier that was funded by the Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee and played a central role in the Russia investigation.
“Documents coming out of the Ukraine against any American—Republican or Democrat—need to be looked at by the intelligence services, who [have] expertise I don’t,” Graham said, “because Russia is playing us all like a fiddle. And Christopher Steele was played by the Russians. That started the Russian investigation against President Trump.”
In a Feb. 10 interview, Joe Biden laughed when asked by CBS “This Morning” if he was concerned about the Justice Department vetting Giuliani’s information. Hunter Biden stepped down from Burisma’s board in April 2019.
“No one has said [Hunter Biden] has done anything wrong except the thug, Rudy Giuliani,” Biden said on the program. “Come on, Rudy Giuliani? A character witness?”
The State Department also is going to be questioned as part of the probe into the Bidens, according to Graham.
“We’re going to ask the State Department, ‘Why didn’t you do something about the conflict of interest? When John Kerry’s chief of staff was warned about Hunter Biden’s conflict on Burisma, what did you do, if anything?’
“That’s all legitimate,” Graham said. “Rudy says he’s got the goods.”
Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.