President Trump has signaled his disapproval of Attorney General William Barr’s handling of allegations of election interference and fraud and even hinted last week that Barr could be on the chopping block within the next several weeks.
Now, the New York Times reports that Barr may be planning to pre-emptively quit before the end of Trump’s first term in January, citing anonymous sources “familiar” with the matter.
Trouble in paradise
President Trump and Barr have largely been on the same page throughout Barr’s tenure as Attorney General, but Barr has made it clear on multiple occasions that he is independent of the President when it comes to his leadership of the Justice Department.
Barr and Trump have managed to work through most of their issues without any public falling out, but the controversial November election may shape up to be the breaking point.
According to the Times:
Attorney General William P. Barr is considering stepping down before President Trump’s term ends next month, according to three people familiar with this thinking. One said Mr. Barr could announce his departure before the end of the year.
One of the people insisted that Mr. Barr had been weighing his departure since before last week and that Mr. Trump had not affected the attorney general’s thinking. Another said Mr. Barr had concluded that he had completed the work that he set out to accomplish at the Justice Department.
Bill Barr shocked Trump supporters by announcing last week that he hasn’t found any evidence of systemic voter fraud during his investigations into allegations of irregularities during the election.
“To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election,” Barr told the Associated Press last week.
Trump himself has avoided directly attacking Barr over the statements, but Trump campaign lawyer Rudy Giuliani fired back after Barr’s revelation that “with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance.”
Neither Barr nor Trump have directly addressed the rumors at the time of this publication, but Trump has become increasingly frustrated with Barr’s cautious approach to pursuing allegations of ele0ction fraud in a number of states.
Trump hinted last week that he could even be considering firing Barr before the end of his term, telling a White House reporter asking about his plans for Barr to “ask me that in a number of weeks from now.”
It appears that it will be a waiting game to see whether Barr or Trump will make the first move or whether the pair plans to wait for the fallout from the Trump campaign’s many election lawsuits.
As of right now, both the White House and Justice Department have refused to provide a statement confirming or denying the speculation, and the Times reported that “Mr. Barr has not made a final decision, and the prospect of him staying on through Jan. 20 remains a possibility, the people familiar with his thinking cautioned.”