Attorney General Bill Barr went out of his way Monday to express skepticism about information President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani is offering on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, but Barr also made clear the Justice Department is open to receiving whatever Giuliani wants to share.
Addressing comments by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) that he’d arranged for Giuliani to present Justice officials with fruits of his on-the-ground research into the Bidens and Ukraine, Barr said information originating in Ukraine must be treated with caution.
“The Department of Justice has the obligation to have an open door to anybody who wishes to provide us information that they think is relevant,” Barr said in response to a reporter’s question at a news conference on unrelated database hacking charges. “I did say to Sen. Graham, we have to be very careful with respect to any information coming from the Ukraine.”
The attorney general appeared to refer to notes as he painted Ukraine as a swamp of allegations almost impossible to separate from political ambitions and grievances.
“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. He said the department’s stance on accounts or evidence emerging from the former Soviet republic is a broad one, but he emphasized it would apply to “any information Giuliani might provide.”
Giuliani has traveled to Ukraine to conduct research into the role of the former vice president’s son Hunter on the board of Burisma, a local energy company. Trump allies have accused both Bidens of corruption, but no substantial evidence of impropriety has emerged. Hunter Biden has denied any wrongdoing, but has said he regrets taking the post and said it reflected “poor judgment” in light of his father’s position at the time.
Barr left the news conference Monday without taking any follow-up questions, but FBI Deputy Director David Bowditch said any report from Giuliani would be handled in the usual course.
“We’re taking information as we would in any case. We will evaluate it appropriately,” Bowditch said.
Asked how receiving unverified information from Giuliani is different from the FBI’s controversial acceptance of former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele’s dossier on alleged Trump-Russia connections, Bowditch did not answer directly. And when asked whether the FBI is, in fact, investigating the Bidens, Bowditch was noncommittal.
“I’m not going to touch it — I’m not going to talk about any investigation, as I never would,” the FBI official said.