Senate Democrats Kamala Harris, Richard Blumenthal, and Sheldon Whitehouse jumped at a Washington Post story from last week that claimed President Trump had asked Attorney General William Barr to publicly clear his name with a news conference. The story, which also reported that Barr rejected the request, has been denounced by Trump and the White House as “fake news.” This, of course, did not deter the Democrats from trying to grasp at the latest straw in Trump’s non-scandalous Ukraine scandal.
“These reports raise serious concerns about the president’s perception of the Justice Department as a partisan political instrument and his willingness to use the power of federal law enforcement in pursuit of his own objectives,” the senators wrote. “We submit this FOIA request in order to obtain communications, documents, and other information related to the president’s reported request that you hold a news conference to clear him of wrongdoing during his call with the Ukrainian president.”
These reports, even if true, do nothing of the kind. Indeed, they are extremely similar to what happened with James Comey in early 2017. Privately, Comey was perfectly willing to tell Trump that he was not under criminal investigation. So, because he was getting hammered in the media, Trump asked Comey if he would be willing to say the same thing publicly. Comey declined, which was one of the biggest reasons that the president decided the FBI would be better off without him.
Now, think what you will about Comey’s decision, but it had nothing to do with Trump’s request being “partisan” or an abuse of power. There was nothing wrong with asking the FBI director to go public with the truth of the matter. The same holds true here. The DOJ has already released a statement saying that no crime was committed in the phone call Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Trump simply wanted Barr to deliver a public statement saying the same thing, knowing that it would come off much more powerfully than a written memo.
Or, you know, maybe he didn’t even ask.
“Bill Barr did not decline my request to talk about Ukraine,” Trump tweeted Thursday. “The story was a Fake Washington Post con job with an ‘anonymous’ source that doesn’t exist. Just read the Transcript. The Justice Department already ruled that the call was good. We don’t have freedom of the press!”
In their FOIA request, the Democrats wrote: “If President Trump’s passionate assertion that such reports are ‘pure fiction’ and ‘Fake News’ is indeed correct, then the Department of Justice should have no problem in expeditiously processing our request.”
Well, we’re not sure how the DOJ can prove a negative, but we’re used to logical black holes when it comes to Democrat statements. And if they’ve been reduced to running down anonymously-sourced Washington Post stories, then they’re even more desperate than we thought.