Will President Trump remove William Barr before leaving the White House?
The Attorney General has dismissed Trump's electoral fraud allegations and angered the President with the timing of the Hunter Biden tax investigation.
President Donald Trump is reportedly considering firing Attorney General William Barr during his final weeks in office. A CNN source details a White House meeting on Friday in which Trump was furious with Barr for not publically investigating Hunter Biden, the President-elect’s son, until after the election.
This is not the first time that Barr has angered the President in recent weeks after his comments on fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Trump is still clinging to his unfounded claims that he was the rightful winner, but as head of the Justice Department Barr revealed that there was no evidence of any wrong-doing.
"To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election," Barr said.
Hunter Biden tax investigation left Trump furious
With little over a month remaining of his single term in office, firing a long-time ally would seem like a bizarre move but Trump has shown himself to be fiercely vindictive since the election defeat. In November Chris Krebs, another Trump appointee, was fired as Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) for disputing the President’s claims of election fraud.
In the past Barr has been considered a Trump loyalist, bringing the Justice Department closer to the White House. He threatened legal action against Democrats who promoted stay-at-home orders during the pandemic and echoed Trump’s rhetoric that they were not tough enough on protestors earlier this year.
However his refusal to further Trump’s claims of election fraud changed that relationship and the recently publicised investigation into Hunter Biden’s tax affairs has left the President furious. Reports claim that the investigation into Hunter Biden’s business dealings actually began in 2018, but were only made public when he issued a statement on Tuesday.
There is no suggested that Joe Biden is involved in the case in any way, but the connections could have been fertile ground for Trump during the election. In 2016, an FBI probe into Hillary Clinton’s emails was, although ultimately fruitless, considered a key factor in Trump’s surprise win.
Will Trump actually fire Barr?
For now Barr remains in his role but there has been a serious breakdown between the two men, with one White House insider telling CNN that their "relationship is a Cold War."
The source adds: "Barr cannot be intimidated by Trump. This is the real story. None of this matters - it's the deposed king ranting. Irrelevant to the course of justice and to Trump's election loss.”
Even before the investigation was made public, there had been reports that the two men were at odds with each other on the election outcome. In early December they held a lengthy meeting in the West Wing that was characterised as “contentious", with Trump later refusing to say if he still had confidence in Barr. "Ask me that in a number of weeks from now. They should be looking at all of this fraud," he said.
Things do not appear to have improved and on Saturday, after news of the investigation had been made public, Trump seemed to confirm that he was considering Barr’s position. He retweeted a post from radio host Todd Starnes calling for Barr to be fired “by the end of business today."
There is also the possibility that Barr may leave of his own accord after reports surfaced last week suggesting that he is considering stepping down. Three individuals familiar with Barr’s thinking told the New York Times that the Attorney General was weighing up his options after the President’s election loss. The sources were split on the reason for his potential resignation, but it is certainly possible that one of Trump’s long-term allies will be gone before the end of the year.