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

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's newest Russia adviser, Andrew Peek, leaves post: report Hawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Trump rips New York City sea wall: 'Costly, foolish' and 'environmentally unfriendly idea' MORE said Wednesday that he didn’t know the details of Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrDems plan marathon prep for Senate trial, wary of Trump trying to 'game' the process Pentagon to place new restrictions, monitoring on foreign military students Parnas: Environment around Trump 'like a cult' 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 ClapperTrump predicts 'historic' conclusions from DOJ's watchdog report on 'spying' The curious timeline for taking down Trump Fairness, tradition, and the Constitution demand the 'whistleblower' step forward MORE and John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanFederal prosecutor looking into Brennan's role in Russian interference findings: report FISA court's rebuke of the FBI: It broke or ignored the rules and our rights Where was American counterintelligence? 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 DurhamJim Comey's damaging legacy at the FBI must be undone Federal prosecutor looking into Brennan's role in Russian interference findings: report The Hill's Morning Report - Vulnerable Dems are backing Trump impeachment 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 MuellerSchiff: Trump acquittal in Senate trial would not signal a 'failure' Jeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay 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 BidenBiden alleges Sanders campaign 'doctored video' to attack him on Social Security record Sanders campaign responds to Biden doctored video claims: Biden should 'stop trying to doctor' public record Capt. "Sully" Sullenberger pens op-ed in defense of Biden: 'I stuttered once, too. I dare you to mock me' MORE, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. 

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