In late spring 2017, President Trump was having a hard time finding a topflight lawyer to spearhead his defense in the sprawling Russian investigation conducted by the new special counsel Robert Mueller. Some of the most prominent litigators in Washington had turned aside overtures to represent the president in the case, expressing concerns that he would not listen to their advice anyway.
Around that time, sources tell Yahoo News, White House officials reached out to a man they thought would be an ideal candidate: William P. Barr, the attorney general under President George H.W. Bush. An outspoken conservative, Barr had gotten on Trump’s radar screen that spring after he had written a newspaper op-ed vigorously defending the president’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey. At one point, Barr was ushered into a brief White House meeting with Trump, who asked him if he was interested in the job, according to a source who was present for the meeting. Barr demurred. He had other obligations, he said. He would have to think about it.
The talk among Trump and his top advisers about hiring Barr as chief defense lawyer did not stop there. It arose again this year after the departure of John Dowd, Trump’s lead lawyer for the special counsel investigation, and continued until the summer, when the president found another candidate far more eager for the job: Rudy Giuliani.