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WASHINGTON – William Barr, Trump’s choice for the helm of the Justice Department, said that US President Donald Trump’s longtime personal lawyer and US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, Friedman first approached him in June of 2017 to join the president’s personal defense team.
Barr had his confirmation hearing on Tuesday.
Friedman asked Barr if he had any public or private conflicts that would cause problems for the president if he were appointed to the team. Barr expressed disinterest in personally representing Trump, but met with him anyway, according to Barr’s testimony.
The meeting was short, and Trump asked him how he knew Robert Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 elections, or of any possible collaboration with Trump associates.
“Are you envisioning some role here?” Barr quoted Trump as saying.
“Right now, I couldn’t do it,” Barr replied.
The president then took his phone number, and did not reach out to Barr until firing Jeff Sessions as attorney-general, largely for his decision to recuse himself from the Russia probe.
Barr has written that the appointment of a special counsel might have been “fatally misconstrued.”
Friedman served as a bankruptcy lawyer to Trump for over a decade before advising him on the 2016 presidential campaign.
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