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Texts show William Barr congratulated Trump's impeachment lawyer as his first Senate trial wrapped up: 'You are a STAR'

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Bill Barr 5
Former Attorney General William Barr. Carolyn Kaster/AP
  • William Barr texted Trump's impeachment lawyer saying, "You are a STAR."

  • He sent the text while Trump's defense team was wrapping up arguments in his first impeachment.

  • Barr repeatedly went to bat for Trump throughout his presidency before being forced to resign.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

As President Donald Trump's first Senate impeachment trial was close to wrapping up, then-Attorney General William Barr texted Trump's lawyer to congratulate him on his performance.

"You are a STAR," Barr texted Pat Cipollone, who was also Trump's White House counsel at the time. That's according to a trove of text messages the Justice Department released this week.

Barr sent the text to Cipollone on January 30, 2020, as Trump's defense team reached the end of its argument against convicting and removing Trump from office.

Read more: We identified the 125 people and institutions most responsible for Donald Trump's rise to power and his norm-busting behavior that tested the boundaries of the US government

At the time, the House of Representatives had impeached Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The charges related to his months-long effort to strong-arm the Ukrainian government into launching investigations targeting Joe and Hunter Biden in an attempt to damage Biden's viability as a Democratic presidential candidate.

While demanding the investigations, Trump also ordered a hold on nearly $400 million in vital military aid to Ukraine and dangled a White House meeting in front of Volodymyr Zelensky, then the newly inaugurated Ukrainian president, that he desperately sought.

At Trump's Senate impeachment trial, the president's defense team said that the charges against him were unconstitutional and should be tossed out. Though Barr congratulated Cipollone on his performance, most observers said the defense team's arguments were light on facts and heavy on hyperbole and misinformation.

Among other things, they claimed:

  • Trump did not condition security assistance or a White House meeting on Zelensky launching the investigations;

  • There was no quid pro quo;

  • Zelensky and other high-level Ukrainian officials did not know about the security-assistance pause until the end of August 2019, over a month after a July 25 phone call during which Trump pressured Zelensky to launch the Biden inquiries;

  • No witness testified to knowing of "any linkage" between the military aid and political investigations;

  • Trump was a better friend and a stronger supporter of Ukraine than his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Cipollone, for his part, said Trump's impeachment was an "effort to overturn" the results of the 2016 election and "interfere" in the 2020 election. And Ken Starr, the former Whitewater special prosecutor who also served on Trump's impeachment defense team, said impeachment should not take the place of the ballot box.

Throughout the trial, Cipollone and Trump's other defense attorneys repeatedly equated impeachment to an attempt to overthrow a legitimately elected president. But the Constitution confers upon the House of Representatives the "sole power to impeach" the president over accusations of treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors.

Read more: Where is Trump's White House staff now? We created a searchable database of more than 329 top staffers to show where they all landed

Barr, meanwhile, developed a reputation for going to bat for Trump and functioning more as his personal defense lawyer than as the nation's chief law-enforcement officer since he was confirmed as attorney general in early 2019.

Trump frequently praised him in public and referred to Barr as "my attorney general." But Barr's fortunes took a turn in 2020, when he was unable to find sufficient evidence to support Trump's claim that the FBI launched the Russia investigation in an effort to sink his presidency.

Trump's anger with Barr reached a boiling point near the end of the year, when the attorney general refused to publicly endorse his conspiracy theory that the presidential election was "rigged" and stolen from him. The final straw came when, contrary to Trump's claims, Barr told reporters in December that the Justice Department had uncovered no evidence of widespread nationwide voter fraud.

He resigned less than two weeks later, though Trump continued pressuring the department to support his claims of electoral malfeasance and repeatedly asked senior department officials to force battleground states not to certify Biden's victory.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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