Attorney General William Barr will step down before Christmas, President Donald Trump said Monday.
The eagerly anticipated departure of Barr, the Justice Department’s chief, came moments after President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory over Trump was formalized by the electoral college. The twilight shake of Trump’s tenure at the White House also followed weeks of public clashes between Barr and the president.
But Barr’s resignation letter, shared by Trump on Twitter when he made the announcement, extensively praised the president and said he was “proud to have played a role in the many achievements and unprecedented achievements you have achieved for the American people.” “.
“Your record is all the more historic as you got it in the face of relentless, relentless opposition,” says Barr’s letter. “Few of them could have survived these attacks, let alone advanced a positive program for the country.”
Trump also implied in the tweets that, despite his recent criticism, he was not malevolent towards Barr.
“I just had a very nice meeting with Attorney General Bill Barr at the White House,” Trump said in two tweets. “Our relationship was very good, he did an excellent job!”
Assistant Attorney General Jeff Rosen will serve as acting attorney general after Barr’s departure, Trump said on the tweets. Richard Donoghue, former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, will take on Rosen’s role as No. 2 officer in the Justice Department, Trump wrote.
Barr directly contradicted Trump in early December when he revealed that the Justice Department had found no evidence of large-scale election or election fraud that would undo President-elect Joe Biden’s planned victory.
This recording during an Associated Press interview undermined the president, who refused to admit Biden, falsely claiming he won the election by citing a number of unproven fraud conspiracies and claiming the race was “rigged” against him been.
Barr’s testimony also severely undermined lawyers’ legal efforts regarding the Trump campaign to reverse Biden’s victories in key swing states.
William Barr takes a seat on Capitol Hill in Washington, USA, on January 15, 2019, after pausing in his Senate Judicial Committee hearing on his appointment as Attorney General of the United States.
Yuri Gripas | Reuters
This legal team, led by Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, has filed a series of lawsuits seeking to invalidate hundreds of thousands of votes, with an emphasis on countries that were heavily democratic in the presidential election. Many of these lengthy lawsuits have already been denied, and none has yet led the swing state judges to block or revoke certification of Biden’s victories.
After the vote in the electoral college the previous Monday, it was less likely that remaining efforts to undo Biden’s victory would be successful.
Giuliani and another Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis pushed Barr’s statements back after they were made public.
“With all due respect to the attorney general, there was no appearance of an investigation by the Justice Department,” said Giuliani and Ellis in a joint statement from the Trump campaign.
“Again, his opinion appears to be with the utmost respect for the Attorney General with no knowledge of or investigation into the material irregularities and evidence of systemic fraud,” the statement said.
Later in December, Trump expressed frustration with the Justice Department for refusing to conduct a public investigation into Biden’s son Hunter Biden in the run-up to the election.
The Wall Street Journal reported that, despite pressure from Trump and Republicans to obtain information about the Democratic candidate’s son, Barr had worked to hide the investigation into Hunter Biden’s business and finances.
Trump tweeted on December 11th, “Why didn’t the Fake News Media, FBI, and DOJ report the Biden matter before the election?”
He added, mistakenly, “Well it’s okay, we won the election anyway – 75,000,000 VOTES !!!”
On Saturday, Trump retweeted a post stating that if the attorney general had been working to keep a criminal investigation of Biden’s son Hunter Biden secret during the election, as did the Wall, Barr “should be fired until the end of business today.” Street Journal reported Friday.
“A big disappointment!” Trump wrote in a comment on this post.
Barr’s fall exacerbates an ongoing leadership crisis in the Justice Department. The attorney general has faced heavy criticism, including from current and former DOJ officials, for politicizing the department.
Barr has resolved issues through his interventions in a number of high profile federal cases involving Trump’s allies.
After federal prosecutors proposed a harsh sentence for GOP agent Roger Stone, a friend of Trump’s convicted of seven crimes related to congressional lies, Barr stepped in to whitewash the proposed verdict. Four of the federal attorneys in Stone’s case resigned from law enforcement shortly thereafter. Trump changed Stone’s ruling in July and saved him from entering prison.
Barr also faced a review of his dealings with former Special Adviser Robert Mueller’s report on Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and the dismissal of Geoffrey Berman, former U.S. attorney for New York’s Southern District.
At times, however, Barr publicly pushed Trump back. In an interview, Barr complained that some of the president’s tweets about ongoing cases made it “impossible” for him to do his job.
A recent controversy has involved an embarrassing mix-up over the replacement of the former US attorney in Manhattan.
In June, Barr announced that Berman was stepping down and being replaced by Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Jay Clayton.
Berman, who reportedly investigated Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani, announced hours later that he had not resigned and would not resign until Trump officially nominated a replacement and that person received Senate approval.
Berman eventually stepped aside after Barr said he would be replaced on an acting basis by Berman’s second-in-command, Audrey Strauss.
The end of Barr’s tenure marks the final step in the deterioration of Trump’s relationship with his attorney general, an alliance that was once considered one of the strongest Trump had with a member of his cabinet.
Barr’s role in the Trump administration, which he took over in 2019, was his second term as the country’s top law enforcement officer. Barr also served as Attorney General under President George HW Bush in the 1990s.
– CNBC’s Dan Mangan contributed to this report.