(Headline USA) Attorney General William Barr used his final public appearance to undercut President Donald Trump on multiple fronts Monday, saying he saw no reason to appoint a special counsel to look into the president’s claims about the 2020 election or to name one for the tax investigation of Joe Biden‘s son.
In the course of breaking with Trump on matters including the Biden family’s corruption and the evidence of vote fraud in the Nov. 3 election, Barr also reinforced the belief of federal officials that Russia was behind a massive hack of U.S. government agencies, not China as Trump has suggested.
Barr made the comments at a press conference to announce additional criminal charges in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 190 Americans, an issue he had worked on in his previous stint as attorney general in the early 1990s.
He chose the announcement, in a case very personal and important to him, for his last public appearance, then took questions.
The matter of Hunter Biden has been a notably sore spot as it appears Barr concealed the investigation prior to the election, even after Hunter’s laptop became a major story and was widely disputed by mainstream media.
The FBI investigation into the Biden family corruption began in 2018, which means the evidence—which likely would have been considered exculpatory in Trump’s impeachment hearing, was known at the time.
Trump announced in a cordial tweet last week that Barr would be resigning prior to Christmas.
Barr said the Justice Department’s existing 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. Nor for election fraud, he said.
Exacerbating the tensions between Trump and his one-time ally was Barr’s undermining Trump amid the widespread evidence of vote fraud. Hundreds of witness affidavits have attested to abuse targeting urban centers in key battleground states.
However, Barr told The Associated Press that he had seen no evidence of widespread voting fraud that would be sufficient for the Justice Department to act, including the appointment of a special counsel.
A special counsel would make it more difficult for the incoming attorney general and president to close investigations begun under Trump. Doing so could lend a sense of legitimacy to the widespread concerns, which leftist media have joined in baselessly denying.
Democrats and their media allies have used Barr’s statements, as well as statements by disgraced cybersecurity chief Chris Krebs, to justify their own politically motivated failures to give the issue serious treatment.
However, the vote fraud has deepened the already partisan rifts and distrust of institutions throngs of Trump supporters who believe the election was stolen.
Democrats hope now to pressure acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to defy the calls for special counsels who would potentially undermine a Biden administration just as former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ appointment of a special counsel to investigate Trump became a two-year distraction for his presidency.
Unlike Trump’s Russia-collusion probe, however, there already exists strong material evidence to point to the Biden abuses.
Trump and his allies have filed roughly 50 lawsuits challenging election results and nearly all have been dismissed or dropped due to technical reasons, including a lack of standing, as judges aim to dodge entering the political fray.
Trump’s lawyers on Sunday filed their first independent suit asking the US Supreme Court to review violations in Pennsylvania related to last-minute voting law changes that ignored and defied the state legislature.
During a meeting Friday, head counsel Rudy Giuliani was among those who pushed Trump to seize voting machines in his hunt for evidence of fraud.
The Homeland Security Department made clear, however, that it had no authority to do so.
For his part, Barr said he saw no reason to seize them.
Earlier this month, Barr also told the AP that the Justice Department and Homeland Security had looked into the claims “that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results” and ultimately concluded that “so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”
Trump has floated the idea of naming attorney Sidney Powell as the counsel to investigate the vote fraud, but law would require an attorney general to do so.
Barr also said Monday 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 at multiple government agencies, including the Treasury and Commerce departments.
Hours after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a radio interview that Russia was “pretty clearly” behind the hacks, Trump sought to undercut that message and play down the severity of the attack.
He tweeted that the “Cyber Hack is far greater in the Fake News Media than in actuality,” supporting a prior comment from Trump that likewise downplayed its extent.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press