Giuliani-Barr rift complicates Trump defense as impeachment inquiry gets under way

Attorney General William Barr called President Trump in April with a question: What was Rudy Giuliani doing?

Trump had just avoided criminal charges with the release of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian electoral interference. But Giuliani was on television attacking former White House counsel Don McGahn, a longtime friend of the attorney general who had testified to investigators about some of the most notable incidents in the report, including Trump’s efforts to seek Mueller’s dismissal.


‘When he was in private life, Trump was accustomed to having lawyers where he was the client, he would give directives and they’d do their best to fulfill his directives. The government works a little bit differently. That was something he didn’t know, didn’t appreciate and I’m not sure if he’s ever fully come to terms with.’


Former senior official, Trump administration


Why, Barr wanted to know, was the president’s private lawyer making a spectacle of himself rather than declaring victory in the Mueller investigation and moving on, according to a person who paraphrased the conversation. Barr wanted the president to tell Giuliani, in effect, to knock it off.

Reuters


Then–Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump beside Rudolph Giuliani during a controversial press event at the Trump International Hotel in Washington in September 2016.

Five months later, Trump’s two highest-profile lawyers are again struggling to get on the same page, this time in the face of an impeachment inquiry launched by congressional Democrats last week. The president’s relationships with his private lawyer who once aspired to be his attorney general and the man who currently has that post are complicating White House efforts to build a legal and public-relations strategy to keep Trump in office.

An expanded version of this report appears at WSJ.com.

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