Attorney General Bill Barr will soon depart from the Trump administration, and his exit may not be on the best of terms after he contradicted President Donald Trump on several fronts in the final press conference of his tenure.
One area of disagreement regards the appointment of a special counsel to continue the investigation of Hunter Biden’s allegedly corrupt foreign business dealings, which Barr revealed he is not inclined to do in spite of the president’s urging, Breitbart reported.
Barr also seemingly undermined the president by refusing to appoint a special counsel to investigate allegations of voter fraud and election irregularities. Furthermore, he joined the chorus of other officials and politicians who are pointing to Russia, and not China, as being behind a recent cyber attack on various corporate and government agency computer systems.
No special counsel for Biden
Barr made the remarks at a press conference to mark the 32nd anniversary of the deadly 1988 Pan Am 103 bombing in Lockerbie, Scotland, and to announce the filing of criminal charges against the suspected Libyan bombmaker in that terrorist attack, The Associated Press reported.
During a time of questions from the media, Barr addressed the Hunter Biden situation, and Trump’s call for a special counsel to be appointed to further probe the allegations of corrupt business deals, money laundering and tax evasion, among other potential crimes involving the family of former Vice President Joe Biden.
“To the extent that there is an investigation, I think that it’s being handled responsibly and professionally currently within the department, and, to this point, I have not seen a reason to appoint a special counsel, and I have no plan to do so before I leave,” Barr said, according to NBC News.
No special counsel for fraud
In addition to declining to name a special counsel in the Hunter Biden case, Barr also shot down Trump’s call for a special counsel to investigate claims of fraud and irregularities in the 2020 presidential election.
“If I thought a special counsel at this stage was the right tool and was appropriate, I would do — I would name one, but I haven’t, and I’m not going to,” Barr said.
He also rejected demands that voting machines in certain locations be seized and examined for evidence of fraud and irregularities. “I see no basis now for seizing machines by the federal government — wholesale seizure of machines by the federal government,” he said.
As it increasingly appears that Biden will assume the presidency on Jan. 20, there has been a growing sense of urgency with regard to the appointment of special counsels to investigate certain politically sensitive matters that might prove embarrassing or inconvenient for Biden and his administration.
The AP noted that it would be much more difficult for Biden — not to mention politically costly and dangerous — to shut down a special counsel and sweep any criminal activities that were being investigated under the rug. Notably, only an attorney general can hire or fire a special counsel, and it must be done for a specific cause, not just political convenience.
Barr will be replaced by already named acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, but as the AP noted, based on Rosen’s confirmation hearings in 2019 as deputy attorney general, it seems unlikely that he would succumb to pressure from Trump to name the special counsels that Barr declined to appoint. However, anything can happen within the next month, particularly if new and undeniable evidence of wrongdoing comes to light.