President Trump is making it very clear that he wants his attorney general to take action before the election against top Democrats such as former President Obama and Joe Biden over the origins of the Russia investigation. Trump's public pressure is reportedly causing new friction with William Barr, though it's looking unlikely that the Justice Department's investigation of the matter will see the light of day before Nov. 3. Coverage:
- The pressure: "Unless Bill Barr indicts these people for crimes—the greatest political crime in the history of our country—then we’ll get little satisfaction, unless I win,” said Trump on Fox News on Thursday. He added, "To be honest, Bill Barr is going to go down as either the greatest attorney general in the history of the country or he’s going to go down as, you know, a very sad situation," per the New York Times. Trump also has unleashed a flurry of tweets in recent days. "Where are all the arrests?" he asks in one.
- Unlikely: Axios reports that Barr is telling top Republicans that his department's comprehensive review into the Russia investigation will not be out before the election. "This is the nightmare scenario," a Republican congressional aide tells the outlet. "Essentially, the year and a half of arguably the number one issue for the Republican base is virtually meaningless if this doesn't happen before the election."
- Frustration: The AP reports that Barr "has privately expressed frustration" over Trump's public pressure about the investigation, which is being led by US Attorney John Durham. The story says that while Barr is in sync with the president on the need for the investigation, he says Trump doesn't understand that a review of this scope takes time. (The investigation has yielded one guilty plea.)
- More to come? At the Washington Post, Aaron Blake writes that Trump's Fox interview "reeked of desperation," noting that Barr wasn't the only top Trump official the president criticized. He also went after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (over the Hillary Clinton email controversy) and FBI chief Christopher Wray (for not backing up Trump's assertions of mail-in ballot fraud). "If Trump’s political standing doesn’t improve—and perhaps even if it does—you can bet there will be more where this came from over the next four weeks."
- Trump's view: Another tweet about the Russia investigation, which he alleges was orchestrated to subvert his 2016 victory: "Wow!!! NOW DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS, THE BIGGEST OF ALL POLITICAL SCANDALS (IN HISTORY)!!! BIDEN, OBAMA AND CROOKED HILLARY LED THIS TREASONOUS PLOT!!! BIDEN SHOULDN’T BE ALLOWED TO RUN - GOT CAUGHT!!!"
(This isn't the first time public friction has emerged
between Barr and Trump.)