In one of his final acts, Attorney General William Barr publicly broke with President Donald Trump.
Barr told reporters he would not seize Dominion voting machines that President Donald Trump has asked be inspected for voter fraud.
The Attorney General also said he would not appoint a special counsel to investigate Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, over tax issues related to his work in foreign countries.
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And finally, Barr said he would also not launch a special investigation into allegations of mass voter fraud.
The news stunned conservatives, many who believed Barr to be a staunch Trump ally —
AG Barr, what a massive disappointment. Expected. Having a SPINE is in short supply in today’s taxpayer funded jobs.
— Dr. of Divinity † ???????????????????? (@realDWVS) December 21, 2020
Barr saw “no reason” to appoint a special counsel to look into any of the president’s claims he said in a press conference on Monday.
In his final press conference, Barr also broke with Trump in reinforcing that federal officials believe Russia was behind the cyberespionage operation targeting the U.S. government. Trump had suggested that China could also be responsible.
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Barr said the investigation into Hunter Biden’s financial dealings was “being handled responsibly and professionally.”
“I have not seen a reason to appoint a special counsel and I have no plan to do so before I leave,” he said.
Barr also told The Associated Press in a previous interview that he had seen no evidence of widespread voting fraud, despite Trump’s repeated claims to the contrary. Trump has continued to fight the election results even after the Electoral College formalized Biden’s victory on Dec. 14.
Trump — angry that Barr didn’t publicly announce the ongoing, two-year investigation into Hunter Biden — has consulted on special counsels with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, White House counsel Pat Cipollone, and outside allies, according to several Trump administration officials and Republicans close to the White House.
Beyond appointing a special prosecutor to investigate the younger Biden, the sources said Trump was interested in having another special counsel appointed to look into his own claims of election fraud. Trump has even floated the idea of naming attorney Sidney Powell as the counsel on election fraud — though Powell was previously removed from Trump’s legal team after she made a series of increasingly wild claims about the election.
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Powell famously promised to release a “Biblical” lawsuit and said she would “release the Kraken” but, so far, has failed to deliver any court victories on behalf of Trump’s campaign.
Naming a special counsel would make it harder for Biden to shut down investigations. But it’s not clear how it could be done without buy-in from Justice officials.
Experts also say that if Trump supporters expect his newly named acting attorney general, Jeff Rosen, to go further than Barr on either matter, they could end up quickly disappointed. Rosen is widely considered far more reserved than Barr.
Barr said the hack of U.S. government agencies “certainly appears to be the Russians.”
In implicating the Russians, Barr was siding with the widely held belief within the U.S. government and the cybersecurity community that Russian hackers were responsible for breaches that have affected multiple government agencies, including the Treasury and Commerce departments.
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Trump tweeted earlier Monday that the “Cyber Hack is far greater in the Fake News Media than in actuality.” He also said China could be responsible, though most experts say Russia is to blame.
Attorney General William Barr says he will not name a special counsel to investigate election fraud: "If I thought a special counsel at this stage was the right tool and was appropriate, I would name one. But I haven't, and I'm not going to" pic.twitter.com/KTT3Ft92Lt
— CBS News (@CBSNews) December 21, 2020
The Associated Press contributed to this article