Democratic senators seek documents on Trump's alleged call for Barr press conference

Three Democratic senators sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrOvernight Health Care: Trump officials lay groundwork for May reopening | Democrats ramp up talks with Mnuchin on next relief deal | Fauci says death toll could be around 60,000 COVID-19 is no excuse for Attorney General Barr to skirt the rule of law Trump officials lay groundwork for May reopening MORE on Friday seeking documents regarding President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders says he wouldn't 'drop dead' if Trump decided on universal healthcare Overnight Health Care: Trump officials lay groundwork for May reopening | Democrats ramp up talks with Mnuchin on next relief deal | Fauci says death toll could be around 60,000 Hillicon Valley: State officials push for more election funds | Coronavirus surveillance concerns ramp up pressure for privacy bill | Senators warned not to use Zoom | Agencies ask FCC to revoke China Telecom's license MORE’s alleged request that Barr hold a press conference saying no laws were broken during a July phone call with Ukraine.

Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisBiden joins calls to release racial breakdowns of coronavirus cases, deaths Harris, Ocasio-Cortez among Democrats calling for recurring direct payments in fourth coronavirus bill On The Money: Mnuchin, Schumer in talks to strike short-term relief deal | Small businesses struggling for loans | Treasury IG sends Dems report on handling of Trump tax returns MORE (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseWarren: Congress should remove funding cap for small business aid in coronavirus bill Democratic senators call on domestic airlines to issue cash refunds for travelers Overnight Energy: Coronavirus package punts on environmental fights | Court sides with tribes in Dakota Access Pipeline case | Trump officials walk away from ethanol court fight MORE (D-R.I.) said Trump’s request raises “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.” 

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“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,” they added.

The senators asked that Barr respond to their request within five business days.

The request comes in response to a Washington Post report released this week that said Trump asked Barr to hold a press conference affirming that he had broken no laws during a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which Trump repeatedly pressured his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSteyer endorses Biden for president Sanders 2020 press secretary: Democratic leadership interested in 'corporate status quo' or 'they're planning to replace Joe' Biden joins calls to release racial breakdowns of coronavirus cases, deaths MORE, a chief political rival, on unfounded corruption allegations.

Barr declined, though the Department of Justice (DOJ) did ultimately release a statement claiming that a readout of the president's call had been evaluated to not contain any campaign finance violations.

While sources told the Post that Trump has mentioned Barr's refusal to host a press conference on the issue in recent weeks, White House officials pushed back on the idea that the two were at odds over the issue.

"The President has nothing but respect for AG Barr and greatly appreciates the work he’s done on behalf of the country - and no amount of shady sources with clear intent to divide, smear, and slander will change that," White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley said Thursday.

"The DOJ did in fact release a statement about the call, and the claim that it resulted in tension because it wasn’t a news conference is completely false," he added. 

The July conversation with Zelensky is at the heart of the House’s impeachment investigation, with Democrats worrying that Trump tied $400 million in military aid to Ukraine to Kiev’s compliance with his request to investigate Biden.