Bill Barr May Be Out Sooner Than the Inauguration

Reports say president is furious with AG over inaction in John Durham's investigation
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 3, 2020 9:10 AM CST
Updated Dec 3, 2020 1:20 PM CST
With 48 Days Left, Trump May Still Fire Barr
Attorney General Bill Barr leaves the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Capitol Hill in Washington on Nov. 9, 2020.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

William Barr's days as attorney general may be numbered, and not just because Inauguration Day approaches. Multiple outlets are reporting that President Trump is furious with Barr, one of his most loyal Cabinet officials, and may fire him before leaving office. Coverage:

  • What Trump says: The president could have ended speculation about Barr's fate Thursday when asked whether he still had confidence in his attorney general. He went a different route, saying, "Ask me that in a number of weeks from now," per CBS News. In regard to Barr's statement this week that he had found no widespread election fraud, Trump said, "They haven't looked very hard, which is a disappointment, to be honest with you."

  • Angry president? The Washington Post cites a senior administration official as saying Trump is "livid" with Barr, though aides are trying to convince Trump not to act. Sources including an administration official say the same to NBC News, adding no decision has been made. And CNN reports that two had a "contentious" meeting this week, while ABC News describes the meeting as "intense."
  • Another possibility: Axios adds the possibility that Barr may resign. Trump is said to be upset with him not only for breaking with his claim of election fraud, but also for his actions related to US Attorney John Durham's review of the investigation into ties between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign. Trump had wanted findings aired before Election Day. "Unless Bill Barr indicts these people for crimes—the greatest political crime in the history of our country—then we'll get little satisfaction," Trump said in October. Around the same time, Barr secretly appointed Durham as a special counsel, meaning he can only be fired by the attorney general for a specific reason.
  • Barr explains: On Tuesday, Barr told the AP this was "to provide Durham and his team some assurance that they'd be able to complete their work regardless of the outcome of the election." The move satisfied some Republicans, but Trump had wanted more from the investigation. And its current focus on FBI agents, rather than the intelligence community, "suggests that Durham may have moved past some of the more incendiary claims that Trump supporters had hoped would yield allegations of misconduct, or even crimes," per the AP.
(The FBI director's job may be in jeopardy, too.)

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