President Trump announced Monday that Attorney General William Barr had submitted his resignation and would be stepping down “just before Christmas.”
“Just had a very nice meeting with Attorney General Bill Barr at the White House. Our relationship has been a very good one, he has done an outstanding job! As per letter, Bill will be leaving just before Christmas to spend the holidays with his family,” Trump said in a tweet. “Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen, an outstanding person, will become Acting Attorney General. Highly respected Richard Donoghue will be taking over the duties of Deputy Attorney General. Thank you to all!”
The president’s announcement, which had been widely expected after he publicly criticized Barr for not doing more to help him overthrow the results of the presidential election, came minutes after electors in California cast ballots that confirmed that Joe Biden had cleared the 270 electoral vote threshold to become president-elect.
In a letter that the president attached to his tweet, Barr said he had updated Trump on his department’s review of voter fraud allegations.
“At a time when the country is so deeply divided, it is incumbent on all levels of government, and all agencies acting within their purview, to do all we can to assure the integrity of elections and promote public confidence in their outcome,” Barr said in his resignation letter.
That assessment reportedly angered the president and he began planning to oust Barr. Trump was also angry at Barr for withholding the fact that the Justice Department had been investigating Hunter Biden, the son of the president-elect, over his tax returns. The information only became public after the Nov. 3 presidential election.
Barr’s resignation letter to Trump was filled with fulsome tributes, the kind that had become commonplace during Cabinet meetings. In it, he praised Trump for enduring a campaign of attacks from his political enemies.
“The nadir of this campaign was the effort to cripple, if not oust, your Administration with frenzied and baseless accusations of collusion with Russia,” Barr wrote in his letter. “Few could have weathered these attacks, much less forge ahead with a positive program for the country.”
Barr was referring to the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, a career prosecutor whose report concluded that he could not find evidence of collusion between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign, but which cited numerous instances of apparent obstruction of justice by Trump and his administration. He left it up to the Justice Department to decide whether to pursue an unprecedented criminal case against the president.
Barr cooperated in an effort by Trump to cast this finding as complete vindication.
In Barr, Democrats saw a man intent on shielding the president at all costs. They lashed out at him for what they said was a blatant mischaracterization of the Mueller report’s findings, as Mueller himself acknowledged. They also took aim at the attorney general for his involvement in Trump’s attempts to procure damaging information on Biden from the Ukrainian government, efforts that led to Trump’s impeachment.
But ultimately Barr broke with Trump over the president’s demand that he back his false claims that the his reelection was stolen from him by massive voter fraud. In an interview with the Associated Press on Dec. 1, Barr said, “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”
“As discussed, I will spend the next week wrapping up a few remaining matters important to the Administration and depart on Dec. 23rd,” Barr said. “Wishing you and Melania and your family a Merry Christmas and a Blessed Holiday Season. God Bless.”
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