WASHINGTON — U.S. Attorney General William Barr, the federal government’s chief law enforcement officer, is stepping down from his post, but not before parting company with President Donald Trump, saying he has seen no evidence of massive fraud in the 2020 presidential election or the need for a special counsel to probe the issue.
Barr has also said that Trump crossed the line by seeking a separate special counsel to investigate President-elect Joe Biden’s son Hunter.
Publicly breaking with the president, Barr flatly resisted both actions, concluding that neither of them were necessary.
“If I thought a special counsel at this stage was the right tool and was appropriate, I would name one,” Barr, speaking of the election, told reporters at the Justice Department Monday (Dec. 21). “But I haven’t, and I’m not going to.”
“I am sure there was fraud in this election,” he said, reminding reporters what he told The Associated Press three weeks ago, when he said there was not “systematic or broad-based fraud that would affect the outcome of the election.”
“I already spoke to that and I stand by that statement,” Barr added.
Barr’s latest remarks starkly contradict Trump’s numerous tweets about widespread fraud, and claims that the presidential election was “stolen” by Biden and the Democrats. Trump has waged a war against Biden’s victory in the election, even suggesting that the military needs to be brought out to seize voting machines and ballots.
When asked about Trump’s charges, Barr said, “I see no plan” now to appoint a special counsel or seize vote-counting machines by the federal government before he steps down from his post.
The investigation is “being handled responsibly and professionally currently within the government,” Barr said.
Barr also has split with Trump over the recently revealed cyberattack on the U.S. government. Trump maintains that the Russians were not responsible for the widespread penetration of U.S. government computer systems and networks.
“From the information I have, I agree with Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo’s assessment. It certainly appears to be the Russians,” Barr noted.
That is also the overwhelming consensus in the government’s intelligence community. Trump, however, insists, without any evidence, that China is the culprit in this case.
“The Cyber Hack is far greater in the Fake News Media than in actuality. I have been fully briefed and everything is well under control. Russia, Russia, Russia is the priority chant when anything happens,” Trump insisted in a Dec. 19 tweet.
Meantime, Barr continued to separate himself further from Trump, especially on issues dealing with Biden’s son Hunter and his foreign business dealings.
Barr said appointing a special counsel to look into the matter, too, was unnecessary.
But in a surprise revelation earlier this month, Barr announced he had already appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as special counsel to investigate whether intelligence and law enforcement officials broke the law in investigating the 2016 Trump campaign.
Barr said in his surprise order that the case was in the “public interest” and that Durham should submit his report to the attorney general when the investigation was finished.
Presumably, that means Durham would deliver his report to an attorney general nominated by Biden.
That angered Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, who accused Barr of using the special counsel law “to continue a politically motivated investigation long after Barr leaves office.”