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Nadler questions Barr's 'back channel' for receiving Giuliani's Ukraine info

CNN's Evan Perez reports.

Posted: Feb 11, 2020 2:00 AM
Updated: Feb 11, 2020 2:00 AM

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee is demanding that Attorney General William Barr explain how the Justice Department is receiving information on Ukraine from President Donald Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.

Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York sent a letter to Barr on Monday demanding details on the arrangement Giuliani has with the Justice Department to provide political dirt he's been digging up in Ukraine.

"As you know, the Department has formal, established channels by which to receive information and begin investigations," wrote Nadler. "This new channel to Mr. Giuliani would seem to be a significant departure from those traditional channels."

Barr on Monday confirmed that the Justice Department has been receiving information from Giuliani on Ukraine, saying DOJ has an "obligation to have an open door to anybody who wishes to provide us information that they think is relevant." He added there's skepticism about anything from Ukraine, which has prompted the department to establish an "intake process in the field" so the Justice Department and intelligence community can scrutinize Ukraine information.

"That is true for all information that comes to the Department relating to the Ukraine including anything that Mr. Giuliani might provide," Barr said.

On Sunday, Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and Trump ally, publicly disclosed that the Justice Department was taking information from Giuliani.

Nadler's letter raised concerns about the process, noting that Giuliani's associates, Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, were indicted last year on campaign finance charges. Nadler noted that Parnas has urged Barr to recuse himself from the case and accused Barr of being "basically on the team." Nadler asked Barr to response to 11 questions about the arrangement and communications with Giuliani.

"Whether or not you are in league with Mr. Giuliani and his associates, DOJ guidelines and regulations exist to protect you and the Department from even the appearance of a conflict of interest or any impropriety," Nadler wrote. "Given your creation of a new 'intake process' for Mr. Giuliani, it is all the more important that you provide a complete explanation for your decision to sidestep standard Department practice."

Giuliani has been vocal about his efforts in Ukraine to investigate the work that former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden did related to a Ukrainian energy company, a topic that was prominent during Trump's Senate impeachment trial.

Trump and his allies have repeatedly made unfounded and false claims to allege that the Bidens acted corruptly in Ukraine.

The Justice Department's acknowledgment that it's receiving information from Giuliani on Ukraine comes as Republican senators are conducting their own investigation into Hunter Biden and Burisma, the energy company that hired the former vice president's son.

Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, both Republicans, have sent letters to a number of government agencies seeking information on Ukraine, including the Secret Service last week.

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