President Trump announced on Monday that Attorney General William Barr will step down from his position before Christmas.
Trump said in a tweet announcing the news that he and Barr had a “very nice meeting” at the White House. The president gave a cordial praise of Barr, saying the Attorney General for doing an “outstanding job!” over the last two years and the two “relationship has been a very good one.”
…Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen, an outstanding person, will become Acting Attorney General. Highly respected Richard Donoghue will be taking over the duties of Deputy Attorney General. Thank you to all! pic.twitter.com/V5sqOJT9PM— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 14, 2020
In a follow-up tweet, Trump also announced that Jeffrey Rosen, the current deputy attorney general, will take over Barr’s role atop the Justice Department and that Richard Donoghue, who over the summer moved to a role at main justice from the Eastern District of New York, would be deputy attorney general.
Barr plans to leave the Justice Department on Dec. 23, according to his resignation letter.
“As discussed, I will spend the next week wrapping up a few remaining matters important to the administration and depart on December 23rd,” Barr wrote.
In his resignation letter, Barr said he was “greatly honored” to have served in the Trump administration, praising the president’s record and highlighted his time at the helm of the Justice Department, including efforts to combat violent crime and drug cartels in Mexico.
“I am greatly honored that you called on me to serve your administration and the American people once again as Attorney General,” Barr wrote in the one and a half-page letter. “I am proud to have played a role in the many successes and unprecedented achievements you have delivered for the American people. Your record is all the more historic because you accomplished it in the face of relentless implacable resistance.’
“Your record is all the more historic because you accomplished it in the face of relentless, implacable resistance. The nadir of this campaign was the effort to cripple, if not oust, your Administration with frenzied and baseless claims of collusion with Russia. Few could have weathered these attacks, much less forged ahead with a positive program for the country,” Barr added.
Barr was confirmed as Trump’s second attorney general back in February 2019 after forcing Jeff Session out after the midterm election and was seen as one of the president’s most loyal allies that repeatedly drew scrutiny from Democrats until recently. Over the weekend, Trump in an interview with Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade criticized Barr over reports that he was aware of the ongoing federal investigation involving President-Elect Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden’s business and financial dealings and worked “for months” to conceal from the public, saying his attorney general should have disclosed the tax probe before the election.
“All he had to do is say an investigation is going on,” Trump said.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News’ Harris Faulkner earlier on Monday that the president was “frustrated” with Barr for not doing more to highlight concerns over Hunter’s tax probe ahead of the election.
“He’s frustrated. He’s very public about it, and the country was misled unfortunately by a number of news outlets, saying that this was a fact-free conspiracy theory. I was right there with the president when he was interviewing with ’60 Minutes’ Leslie Stahl where she wouldn’t even let him speak on the Hunter Biden scandal,” McEnany said. “All along the facts were there, it was ignored and it’s unfortunate that the attorney general didn’t come out.”
Prior to the Hunter’s probe report, Trump was growing frustrated over the delays in the release of the so-called Durham report, which was supposed to unveil the bombshell revelations regarding the Obama administration’s handling of the Trump-Russia investigation. Barr instead announced that he had appointed John Durham to serve as special counsel to further investigate the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation, as well as continue his report on special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Appointing Durham as special counsel would shield him from getting potentially disbanded by the incoming Biden administration, and prevent Biden from firing him in that capacity could only be done by the Attorney General for specific violations.
Earlier this month, Barr in an interview with AP said the DOJ has not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, despite saying prior to the election that mail-in voting was ripe for fraud. The interview from Barr prompted speculation that he would be fired or resign before Jan 20.
However, Barr noted in his resignation letter that “these allegations will continue to be pursued” by the Justice Department.