President Donald Trump on Thursday called The Washington Post "degenerate" in a morning tweet that claimed a recent report published by the D.C. newspaper was false.
"The degenerate Washington Post MADE UP the story about me asking Bill Barr to hold a news conference," the president tweeted just after 8:45 a.m. "Never happened, and there were no sources!"
In another tweet sent shortly after, the president urged his followers to "Read the Transcript!" which has become one of Trump's go-to statements to defend himself amid the current House impeachment inquiry. He's most likely referring to the summarized transcript of his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that the administration released following news of the whistleblower in September.
The Washington Post reported late Wednesday that the president had purportedly urged Attorney General William Barr to hold a press conference to state that the president did nothing illegal on that July call. Barr declined the president's request, which reportedly occurred sometime around September 25, The Washington Post reported.
The report notes that the Justice Department had investigated the White House transcript of the call to determine whether the president had broken any campaign finance laws. The agency determined that he had not and declined to further investigate the July call. The Washington Post said it was unclear why the attorney general would not make a televised statement echoing these findings at the president's request.
According to The Post report, the Department of Justice has reportedly attempted to distance itself from the White House in recent weeks, particularly on topics relating to the Ukraine call and the current impeachment inquiry. Justice Department officials have also reportedly attempted to specifically distance themselves from former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer.The summarized transcript of the call shows the president had told the Ukrainian president that the attorney general would offer assistance in his requested investigations of former Vice President Joe Biden and the 2016 election, though The Post said a spokesperson for Barr claimed Barr and Trump had never discussed such an arrangement.
Barr and the president are reportedly still on good terms, The Washington Post reported, citing people close to the administration. A spokesperson for the White House on Wednesday confirmed as much to The Washington Post.
"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," Deputy White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said.