Attorney General William Barr said on Monday that the Justice Department (DOJ) has “established an intake process” to review any Ukraine-related information submitted by individuals, in order to assess its source and credibility.
Barr made the comments in response to a question during a press conference from a reporter, who asked the attorney general whether the department was receiving Ukraine-related information from President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.
On Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that the DOJ has created a process to allow Giuliani to submit information he has collected in Ukraine about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden so that the material can be vetted.
“[Attorney General William Barr] told me that they have created a process that Rudy could give information and they would see if it’s verified,” Graham said during the interview while denying that the DOJ has been ordered to investigate the Bidens. He also said that the information had to be handed over to the DOJ for vetting because “it could be Russian propaganda.”
The Democrats’ recent impeachment efforts against Trump was centered around allegations that the president had leveraged his office to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals—2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden. Trump was acquitted of charges—abuse of power and obstruction of Congress—related to Ukraine during the impeachment trial in the Senate.
During Monday’s press conference, Barr said that the DOJ has the obligation to “have an open door to anybody who wishes to provide us information that they think is relevant,” while adding that he cautioned Graham about any information coming from Ukraine.
“There are a lot of agendas in the Ukraine, there are a lot of cross-currents. And we can’t take anything we receive from the Ukraine at face value,” Barr said.
“And 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 you know, that is true for all information that comes to the department relating to the Ukraine, including anything Mr. Giuliani might provide,” he added.
The impeachment saga began after an anonymous whistleblower complaint was sent to the Intelligence Community Inspector General expressing concerns about a call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The White House released the transcript of the call between the two leaders immediately after the allegations, which showed that Trump had referenced Barr and Giuliani multiple times.
After the transcript was released, the DOJ said in a statement in September that the president had not spoken to Barr about having Ukraine investigate anything relating to the Bidens.
“The President has not asked the Attorney General to contact Ukraine—on this or any other matter. The Attorney General has not communicated with Ukraine—on this or any other subject. Nor has the Attorney General discussed this matter, or anything relating to Ukraine, with Rudy Giuliani,” DOJ spokesperson Kerri Kupec said.
After Trump’s acquittal, several Republican senators turned their attention to reviewing corruption allegations against the Bidens. The Bidens have repeatedly denied wrongdoing.
Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said in a letter (pdf) on Feb. 5 that the Committee on Finance and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs was reviewing the “potential conflicts of interest posed by the business activities of Hunter Biden and his associates during the Obama administration, particularly with respect to his business activities in Ukraine and China. ”
Hunter Biden’s lucrative board position in Burisma, one of the largest natural gas companies in Ukraine, and his father’s comments about his involvement in the firing of a top Ukraine prosecutor who was investigating the gas company had garnered significant attention in the past few months. Meanwhile, the senators also raised concerns about Hunter’s trip to China aboard Air Force Two with his father in December 2013, just one month after Rosemont Seneca, an investment firm that Biden helped create, entered into negotiations with Bohai Capital to create investment firm BHR Partners.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.