Trump denies knowledge of Barr meeting in Italy, says it would be appropriate

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMost Americans break with Trump on Ukraine, but just 45 percent think he should be removed: poll Judge orders Democrats to give notice if they request Trump's NY tax returns Trump's doctor issues letter addressing 'speculation' about visit to Walter Reed MORE said Wednesday that he didn’t know the details of Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrGOP rep predicts watchdog report on alleged FISA abuses will find 'problems' Barr defends Trump's use of executive authority, slams impeachment hearings GOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse MORE’s recent trip to Italy but insisted such outreach would be appropriate in connection with the Justice Department’s review of the FBI’s 2016 election interference probe.

Trump said the Justice Department is investigating corruption at the FBI, suggesting without evidence that former President Obama may have engaged in wrongdoing in connection with the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia in 2016.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Well, I don’t know the details. I just know our country is looking into the corruption of the 2016 election,” Trump said at a joint news conference with Italian President Sergio Mattarella when he was asked whether he personally arranged Barr’s meetings in Italy.

“It was a corrupt election, whether it’s [James] Comey or [Andrew] McCabe or [Peter] Strzok or his lover, Lisa Page,” Trump said, referring to former top FBI officials involved in the bureau's Russia investigation who have become targets of criticism among Trump and his Republican allies.

“There was a lot of corruption. Maybe it goes all the way up to President Obama,” Trump continued. “I happen to think it does.” 

Trump also mentioned Obama-era intelligence officials James ClapperJames Robert ClapperThe curious timeline for taking down Trump Fairness, tradition, and the Constitution demand the 'whistleblower' step forward Schiff: Barr 'weaponizing' DOJ 'to go after the president's enemies' MORE and John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanTrump bemoans 'double standard' in Stone conviction The curious timeline for taking down Trump Brennan: Russian election interference 'changed the mind of at least one voter' MORE, calling them “some real beauties.”

Barr reportedly held meetings with Italian intelligence officials earlier this month to ask for assistance in U.S. attorney John DurhamJohn DurhamNo credibility in this braying for Trump's removal Impeachment tests Barr-Trump relationship Democrats doth protest too much against the Durham investigation MORE’s ongoing review of the Russia investigation.

“I don’t know anything about the meeting but certainly it would be appropriate because the word is, and you read it in the same papers that I do, that they did go to other countries to try and hide what they were doing,” Trump told reporters Wednesday.

“Italy may have been one of them. So you’ll really have to ask Attorney General Barr.”

Barr said earlier this year he would investigate whether intelligence collection on the Trump campaign was adequately predicated; his inquiry is viewed by many as an attempt to discredit the Russia investigation that eventually morphed into former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSpeier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' Comey: Mueller 'didn't succeed in his mission because there was inadequate transparency' MORE’s probe. 

The Justice Department said at the end of September that Trump had contacted foreign countries at Barr’s request to ask them for help in connection with the ongoing probe after reports emerged Trump had raised the matter on a phone call with Australia’s prime minister.

Trump also brought up the Russia inquiry on a July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during which he also asked Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenMost Americans break with Trump on Ukraine, but just 45 percent think he should be removed: poll Democrats release two new transcripts ahead of next public impeachment hearings Press: Ukraine's not the only outrage MORE, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. 

The Ukraine call triggered an intelligence community whistleblower complaint and an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives.