William Barr has announced his resignation as US attorney general, weeks after breaking with Donald Trump to explain that he found no evidence of widespread irregularities in the November presidential election.
Mr Trump claimed Monday night that Mr Barr’s departure was amicable, but the announcement came with less than six weeks remaining in the Trump administration and two days after the president described his attorney general as a “major disappointment”.
The outgoing president announced Mr. Barr’s departure on Twitter after President-elect Joe Biden officially received the 270 electoral college votes to be sworn in on Jan. 20.
Mr Trump wrote on Twitter that he had a “very nice meeting” with Mr Barr at the White House on Monday, adding, “Our relationship has been very good, he has done an excellent job!”
The president said Mr. Barr would be “leaving just before Christmas for the vacation with his family” and will be replaced by Jeff Rosen, assistant attorney general. He attached Mr. Barr’s resignation letter, also dated Monday.
Barr refused to play along with President Trump’s ridiculous claims of winning the election. He’s now a month earlier as attorney general
Mr. Barr commended the President in his letter, saying he was “proud to have played a role in the many achievements and unprecedented achievements that you have brought to the American people”.
However, his resignation comes two days after Mr. Trump criticized Mr. Barr on Twitter as a “major disappointment” after the attorney general learned of a federal investigation into Mr. Biden’s son Hunter’s tax affairs for months.
Hunter Biden announced last week that his tax affairs were being investigated the day after his attorneys were notified of the investigation by the US law firm in Delaware.
Earlier this month, Mr Trump was reportedly angry after Mr Barr told the Associated Press that he had not seen any evidence of election fraud that would affect the outcome of the presidential election. Mr Trump and his allies have claimed, without evidence, that the Democrats stole the election by facilitating widespread fraud.
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Mr Barr’s remarks to the AP showed a marked departure from the president, whom he had loyally supported since he was sworn in as attorney general in February 2019.
In the days following the November 3rd vote, Mr. Barr posted a memo amending policy to allow pre-election investigation into election fraud. This was an unusual move that some interpreted as an attempt to appease Mr Trump.
Mr. Barr, who also served as U.S. Attorney General in the administration of George HW Bush from 1991 to 1993, was widely criticized by the Democrats during his second term in the office for his unwavering loyalty to Mr. Trump, and especially his dealings with Robert Mueller Russia investigation and criminal case against Michael Flynn, former National Security Advisor to the President.
Jerrold Nadler, the Democratic Congressman who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, said Monday that Mr. Barr was “ready to make the presidential bids on any front but one”.
Barr refused to play along with President Trump’s ridiculous claims of winning the election. He’s now a month early as attorney general, ”he said.
But Lindsey Graham, the Republican Senator for South Carolina who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, defended Barr’s tenure as the government’s chief attorney.
“I have nothing but complete respect and admiration for the work of William Barr,” said Mr Graham in a statement, adding that Mr Barr was the “right man at the right time in overseeing highly political investigations and was at times in the breach” both left and right ”.
Mr Biden has not yet announced who he will nominate for attorney general, but is reportedly considering Sally Yates, who was fired as acting attorney general in the early days of the Trump administration, and Doug Jones, the Democratic Senator from Alabama, who lost took his offer for re-election last month.
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