Attorney General William Barr, one of President Donald Trump’s staunch allies, resigns amid continuing tensions with the president over the president’s baseless allegations of electoral fraud and the investigation into the president-elect’s son Joe Biden.
Barr visited the White House on Monday, where Trump said the attorney general presented his letter of resignation. “According to the letter, Bill will be leaving just before Christmas to spend the holidays with his family,” Trump tweeted.
Trump has publicly expressed his anger over Barr’s statement to The Associated Press earlier this month that the Justice Department found no widespread voter fraud that would change the election outcome. Trump is also angry that the Justice Department failed to publicly announce that it was investigating Hunter Biden ahead of the election, despite the department’s policy against such a statement.
Barr, in his resignation letter, said he briefed Trump on Monday about “the department’s review of allegations of voter fraud in the 2020 election and how those allegations will continue to be prosecuted.” He added that his last day of work would be December 23.
Trump has said Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen, whom he called an “exceptional person”, will become acting attorney general.
Despite Trump’s obvious contempt for those who publicly disagree with him, Barr has generally remained in the good graces of the president and has been one of the president’s strongest allies. Ahead of the election, he repeatedly raised the idea that postal voting could be particularly vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic, as Americans feared going to the polls.
But Trump has a low tolerance for criticism, especially public criticism, from his allies and often retaliates in kind.
Barr, who was in his second term as attorney general, sought to present himself as an independent leader who would not give in to political pressure. But Democrats have repeatedly accused Barr of acting more like the president’s personal advocate than the attorney general, and Barr has proven to be a largely trusted ally of Trump and a defender of presidential power.
Before releasing Special Advocate Robert Mueller’s full report on the Russia investigation last year, Barr presented the results in a manner favorable to Trump, though Mueller pointedly said he could not. exonerate the president of obstruction of justice.
He also appointed as special advocate the US attorney who is leading a criminal investigation into the origins of the FBI’s 2016 election investigation that turned into Mueller’s investigation into possible Trump-Russia cooperation, following repeated calls by Trump to “investigate investigators.”
Barr also ordered Justice Department prosecutors to review the handling of the federal investigation into Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and then sought to dismiss the criminal charges against Flynn, who had pleaded to twice guilty of lying to the FBI. Trump later pardoned Flynn.
Barr’s break with Trump over electoral fraud was not the first. Earlier this year, Barr told ABC News that the president’s tweets on Justice Department affairs “keep me from doing my job” and that tensions erupted just a few months ago, when the two were increasingly at odds over the pace of the Durham inquiry.
Trump had been increasingly critical of the lack of arrests, and Barr privately told people he was frustrated with Trump’s public statements on the case.
Trump also reportedly blamed Barr for comments by FBI Director Chris Wray on voter fraud and mail-in voting that did not fit the president’s fear-mongering rhetoric.
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