World

Newsdeck

U.S. Attorney General Barr steps down as Trump election defeat confirmed

WASHINGTON, Dec 14 (Reuters) - U.S. Attorney General William Barr will step down next week, he said on Monday, shortly after the Electoral College confirmed President Donald Trump's loss to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden.

By Sarah N. Lynch

Barr, who had angered Trump by not supporting his incorrect claims that the Nov. 3 election result had been tainted by widespread fraud, said he would leave office on Dec. 23, a little less than a month before Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20.

Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen will take over as acting attorney general after Barr’s departure, Trump said.

“Our relationship has been a very good one, he has done an outstanding job!” Trump said of Barr on Twitter.

A White House official told Reuters that Barr resigned on his own accord.

Trump lashed out at Barr on Twitter over the weekend after the Wall Street Journal reported that Barr knew earlier this year about an investigation into Biden’s son Hunter’s taxes.

Trump retweeted a comment from radio host Todd Starnes saying Barr should be fired for not disclosing the probe during the campaign. “A big disappointment!” Trump said in his tweet.

Barr’s fate in the waning days of the Trump administration had been in question since he said earlier this month that a Justice Department investigation had found no sign of major fraud in the election, contradicting Trump’s claims.

Trump’s legal team accused Barr of failing to conduct a proper inquiry into the allegations.

Barr’s resignation letter was released shortly after he briefed the president about the Justice Department’s review into the Trump campaign’s voter fraud claims. In it, Barr pledged the allegations “would continue to be pursued.”

The White House official said Barr’s meeting with Trump was amicable.

In the letter, Barr also praised what he called Trump’s historic record, saying he had helped boost the economy, strengthen the military and curb illegal immigration.

“I am proud to have played a role in the many successes and unprecedented achievements you have delivered for the American people,” Barr wrote.

Biden beat Trump by 306 to 232 votes in the state-by-state Electoral College that chooses the president, as well as by more than 7 million ballots in the popular vote.

Despite that, Trump has refused to concede and continues to promote his baseless voting fraud allegations, which have been repeatedly rejected by state and federal officials.

Trump has pursued a series of legal challenges in numerous states, but he has not managed to prevail in any of them.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a long-shot lawsuit by Texas that was backed by Trump and a number of other states seeking to throw out voting results in four states, dealing what is seen as the fatal blow in his quest to undo his election loss.

CORE TRUMP SUPPORTER

Barr has long been a staunch Trump ally, drawing scorn from Democrats and many of the department’s own career prosecutors who have accused him of putting Trump’s personal interests ahead of those of the country.

“William Barr was willing to do the President’s bidding on every front but one. Barr refused to play along with President Trump’s nonsensical claims to have won the election,” Democratic House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said in a statement.

“Whomever Joe Biden chooses as the new Attorney General will have a tremendous amount of work to do to repair the integrity of the Department of Justice,” Nadler added.

Prior to the 2020 election, Barr repeated Trump’s unfounded claims that mail-in ballots could be subject to fraud, and he also intervened in several high-profile criminal cases in ways that benefited Trump’s political allies such as Michael Flynn and Roger Stone.

In May 2019, Barr tapped federal prosecutor John Durham to investigate Obama-era intelligence and law enforcement officials for possible crimes in connection with their early stage probe into whether Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign colluded with the Russian government.

On Dec. 1, Barr disclosed he had elevated Durham to the role of special counsel in October so that he could continue his criminal investigation – a move that will make it politically difficult for Biden to remove him from the post until the probe has concluded.

Noah Bookbinder, a former federal prosecutor who is now executive director for the progressive advocacy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, said on Monday that Barr “has done tremendous damage to the Department of Justice and to the American people’s very faith in our justice system.

“It is beyond ironic that Barr seems to have been pushed out for not going quite far enough to abuse his position for Trump’s benefit, however unconscionably far he did go,” Bookbinder’s statement said. “The reason may be ridiculous, but good riddance.” (Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch, Additional reporting by Eric Beech and Jeff Mason; Editing by Scott Malone, Howard Goller and Peter Cooney)

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Johann Olivier says:

    Sentient Naartjie, indeed. And that’s unkind to naartjies. How on earth do so many justify their support of this deranged individual? I find it so ironic that so many white South Africans are too ready to jump on the Trump-wagon, while decrying Zuma. They are birds of a feather!!

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

[%% img-description %%]

The lowdown on NHI: The why, the impact and your options

Why does the government want to introduce NHI, will this mean the end of medical schemes as we know them, and what can be expected to change in the next two years?

Join our live webinar on Thu 30 May at 12h00, live, online and free of charge.

MavericKids vol 3

How can a child learn to read if they don't have a book?

As the school year starts again, thousands of children will not have the basics (like books) to learn from.

81% of children aged 10 cannot read for meaning in South Africa.

For every copy of MavericKids sold from the Daily Maverick shop, we will donate a copy to Gift of the Givers for learners in need. If you don't have a child in your life, you can donate both copies.

Small effort, big impact.