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William Barr publicly details his talks about joining Donald Trump’s legal team

January 15, 2019

Attorney General nominee William Barr publicly disclosed Tuesday for the first time that he talked with President Trump about joining his legal team, calling it a “short-lived” idea.

Mr. Barr said that in June 2017, he was approached by David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel who questioned him about joining Mr. Trump’s legal team.

“My understanding was that he was interested in finding lawyers that could argue the defense team and, failing that, he wanted to identify Washington lawyers who had broad experience,” Mr. Barr recalled at his confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Mr. Barr said he told Mr. Friedman that he could not help because he had just taken on a corporate client that expected a lot of work.

“I didn’t want this burden, and I liked the freedom of not having to represent an individual,” he said.

Mr. Barr said Mr. Friedman asked him to meet with the president, which he did.

During the meeting, Mr. Trump asked him about special counsel Robert Mueller, Mr. Barr said. He said that he told the president that Mr. Mueller was “a straight shooter and could be dealt with as such.”

Mr. Barr said he also told the president that he would remain good friends with Mr. Mueller when the Russia investigation was over.

The president asked Mr. Barr if he envisioned a role on his legal team, but he declined. Mr. Barr said the president asked him for his phone number, but he did not hear again from Mr. Trump until he was asked to be the attorney general nominee.

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