President Trump slammed Attorney General William P. Barr on Saturday, lambasting him on Twitter for not violating Justice Department policy of publicly revealing an investigation into President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.
The critical tweets about Mr Barr, who has largely been a close confidant of the president since his appointment two years ago, came a day after the Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit to overturn the results of the election. With the Electoral College due to meet on Monday and Congress to officially count the results in January, the chances for Mr. Trump to change the result are almost over.
The president’s statements that undermine confidence in the electoral process – and his attacks on institutions – have intensified since the November 3 elections, as he enters the final weeks of his term. Privately, he criticized Mr Barr for failing to support his false allegations of widespread election fraud and instead asserting Mr Biden’s victory.
His messages on Saturday echoed his attacks on his first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who he criticized for failing to oversee the investigation into whether the Trump campaign was colluding with Russian officials during the 2016 election. For months, Mr. Trump publicly berated Mr. Sessions before firing him in November 2018, a day after the mid-term races.
In three tweets, Mr. Trump called the attorney general a “big disappointment” and denounced him for failing to disclose the existence of an investigation into Hunter Biden for possible tax evasion, which he said gave Republicans an advantage in the election. This would have violated the ministry’s guidelines for public discussion of pending cases. Mr. Trump himself benefited from the policy in 2016, when officials remained silent on the investigation into a possible conspiracy between his campaign and Russian officials.
“Why didn’t Bill Barr reveal the truth to the public ahead of the election about Hunter Biden? Joe was lying on the debate stage that nothing was right, or was happening – The press confirmed. Big disadvantage for Republicans at the polls! ” Mr. Trump wrote.
The president told aides he would like to see Mr Barr appoint a special advocate to investigate young Mr Biden, people briefed on the talks said. He did not express that desire directly to Mr Barr, according to a person familiar with the conversations, but instead let the matter become public in hopes of creating a lobbying campaign.
Mr Barr is currently unlikely to appoint such a special prosecutor, according to people familiar with the thinking. The question remains whether Mr. Trump will succeed in forcing him to resign or fire him so that he can appoint someone willing to respond to the president’s personal request.
The president’s interest in appointing a special advocate has already been reported by the Wall Street Journal.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice declined to comment on the president’s tweets.
Mr Trump did not answer questions from reporters as he left the White House around noon to travel to West Point for the annual Army-Navy football game on Saturday. He has remained mostly out of sight since polling day, answering a few questions from reporters and attending only a handful of public events.
Last Sunday, The New York Times reported that Mr Barr was considering resigning before term expires, a decision he had been weighing for weeks. The attorney general was convinced Mr. Trump had lost the election, believed his work at the Justice Department was over and wanted to avoid the controversy that often arises at the end of an administration.
In response to the report, some Republicans pressured Mr Barr to reconsider his plans, and the attorney general has told the White House he intends to stay until the end of his term.
After Hunter Biden revealed on Wednesday that the Justice Department was investigating his taxes, the president’s anger towards his attorney general increased.
Mr. Barr has long been viewed as a close ally of the President. His public summary of the lengthy report by Robert S. Mueller III, the special advocate who was appointed to investigate the Russian interference, cast the content in a favorable light for Mr. Trump, prompting protests from Mr. Mueller against him. -even.
Mr. Barr also worked with White House attorney Pat A. Cipollone to publicly release the transcript of the call Mr. Trump had with the President of Ukraine in July 2019. In that call, the president – who withheld Congress approved military aid to Ukraine – pushed to investigate the Bidens.
But their relationship has been strained this year, with the president and Mr Barr rarely speaking. In February, as Mr. Trump expanded his attacks on law enforcement, Mr. Barr publicly berated the president, saying Mr. Trump’s tweets made it “impossible” for him to do his job.
In the weeks following the election, Mr Barr refused to refute Mr Trump’s specious claims of widespread voter fraud. But this month, after Mr. Trump raised the possibility that the Justice Department and the FBI were involved in swinging the election to Mr. Biden, Mr. Barr broke his silence. In an interview with The Associated Press, Mr Barr said he saw no example of widespread electoral fraud that could have significantly affected the election.
The comments angered Mr. Trump, who was looking for someone to help argue that the election was stolen from him.
Days before the election, the Justice Department announced that Mr Barr had appointed a high-ranking federal prosecutor as special advocate to examine how the FBI and intelligence agencies had investigated links between Mr Trump’s campaign and Russia.
The announcement angered Mr. Trump, who had wanted Mr. Barr to make such a disclosure public ahead of the election, when Mr. Trump could have militarized it during the election campaign, as he did with the federal inquiry. on Hillary Clinton’s mail server and the posting of stolen e-mails from her campaign chairman publicly distributed via WikiLeaks.
Also on Saturday in Washington, a small group of the president’s supporters joined in a “Stop the Steal” march. Among those in attendance was Enrique Tarrio, a leader of the far-right Proud Boys who also led a “Latino for Trump” effort during the presidential campaign.
On the social media site Speak, Mr Tarrio posted photos of himself in the White House and said he had received a “last minute” invitation. Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said Mr. Tarrio “was on a public Christmas tour of the White House” but did not meet with the president and the White House did not invite him.