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Tuesday, December 15, 2020

December 15, 2020

(DailyMail) - Bill Barr resigned as attorney general Monday after a face-to-face meeting with Donald Trump who had raged that the chief law enforcement officer keeping the Hunter Biden probe secret.
Trump announced the departure in a tweet which presented Barr's decision to go as his own.

'Our relationship has been a very good one, he has done an outstanding job!' Trump said, then said Barr would 'spend the holidays with his family.'

The White House published a resignation letter from Barr which hinted at tensions over Trump's claims of voter fraud – barely more than five weeks before Trump is to leave office.

The departing AG said that the two had met for talks on voter fraud allegations and said 'it is incumbent on all levels of government... to assure the integrity of elections and promote public confidence in their outcome.'

Bar's letter spoke to the importance of election integrity – even as he infuriated the president this month by failing to to endorse his unfounded allegations of widespread voter fraud in the election.


'At a time when the country is so deeply divided, it is incumbent on all levels of government, and all agencies acting within their purview, to do all we can do assure the integrity of elections and promote public confidence in their outcome,' Barr wrote.

At the start of December, when Trump was pressing his fraud claims full-bore with lawsuits in battleground states, Barr gave an interview where he said agents were pursuing specific allegations of fraud but 'to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.'

The comment undermined Trump's legal posture, at a time when lawsuits by his campaign and his allies were already suffering an accumulating list of defeats.

The departure came the afternoon after it emerged Barr used the force of his office to instruct prosecutors investigating Hunter Biden not to take any steps that might cause the probe to be publicly revealed in the run-up to the election.

Trump publicly complained about Barr over the weekend. He told Fox News Barr 'should have stepped up.'

'All he had to do is say an investigation’s going on,” Trump said. 'When you affect an election, Bill Barr, frankly, did the wrong thing.'

Said a White House spokesman Monday: 'AG Barr resigned on his own accord. He wasn’t pushed out or forced to resign. It was a very amicable meeting and as you can tell from the letter he thinks very highly of the President.'

It also came days after a devastating loss at the Supreme court, which decided not to take up a case brought by the attorney general of Texas seeking to overturn the vote in four battleground states Trump lost.

Trump tweeted out the Barr letter just minutes after California's electors met, icing Joe Biden's win in the Electoral College. More Republican senators began to call Biden the president-elect, and Biden planned a speech later Monday where he planned to say it was 'time to turn the page.'

Trump announced that Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen would take over. That puts him in a position to oversee several highly sensitive matter in Trump's final days: a spate of scheduled federal executions, and the charged John Durham probe, the Hunter Biden investigation.

The attorney general also oversees the pardon office and a formal apparatus at a time when the president could push through a raft of pardons for political allies – although Trump has repeatedly worked outside that structure to grant pardons to political allies.

Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump wants the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden – but that Barr was not interested in the idea. Senior White House officials expressed 'frustration' over Barr's handling of the Hunter Biden probe, according to the paper.

Lawyer Lin Wood, who was behind a 'Kraken' lawsuits in Georgia and elsewhere, was still hanging onto hopes that Barr would green light election fraud investigations that might somehow keep Trump in office.

'I believe Barr will announce major moves before 12/23 but does not want to stay to prosecute. He has done his job & served country well. New AG & assistants will prosecute the massive number of cases coming,' he predicted.

Despite Barr's late efforts that frustrated Trump, liberal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington blasted him in a statement. "Attorney General Bill Barr has done tremendous damage to the Department of Justice and to the American people's very faith in our justice system. Barr has repeatedly used the DOJ for the benefit of President Trump — protecting Trump's friends and allies, attacking his perceived enemies and furthering his personal interests and agendas,' the group said in a statement.

The American Civil Liberties Union also wasn't swayed by Barr's recent actions.

'Bill Barr was one of the worst attorneys general in U.S. history. He deployed the Justice Department not to promote justice, but to serve Donald Trump,' the group wrote. 'He blatantly mischaracterized the Mueller report to whitewash its findings before the public could see it, questioned the motives of a legitimate investigation into Russian influence on the Trump campaign, revived the federal death penalty in ways that limited defendants’ rights to fair hearings, and interfered in federal prosecutions to aid Trump cronies Michael Flynn and Roger Stone.'

The ACLU continued: 'He forfeited the Justice Department’s independence and integrity in obeisance to the president. Yet when he was unwilling to repeat Trump’s wholly false claims about voter fraud, Trump essentially dumped him. That even Barr was unwilling to go as far as Donald Trump says more about the president than it does about the attorney general.'

Barr was spotted leaving the White House Monday afternoon. He gave a fist-bump to the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, as he was departing, CNN reported.

Barr took over in February 2019, replacing acting AG Matthew Whitaker and first AG Jeff Sessions, who Trump repeatedly humiliated publicly for having recused himself from overseeing the Mueller investigation.

The directive to avoid steps that might allow the Hunter Biden probe to go public, reported in the Wall Street Journal, was in keeping with existing Justice Department policy against taking investigatory steps close to an election that might interfere with it.

Barr and his team took steps to 'insulate' the investigations, according to the report, even as Trump repeatedly demanded a probe of his political rival's son.

Those instructions were given orally in 'conversations with prosecutors,' according to the Journal, which would appear to suggest there is no paper trail for it. They included asking if staff members involved in the situation could be trusted.

The case reflects the deep pressures being navigated by the Justice Department in the wake of 2016 and Trump's unprecedented and constant calls to investigate his opponents.

Just days before the 2016 elections, then-FBI Director James Comey informed lawmakers that the bureau was investigating new emails uncovered on former Rep. Anthony Weiner's laptop. The disclosure provided another blow to the Clinton camp, and Hillary Clinton and other aides have cited Comey as helping cause her defeat.

A 2012 policy is intended to keep the Justice Department away from actions that might steer a campaign.

Democrats had blasted Barr throughout his term for several pivotal steps that appear to have benefited Trump: withholding documents and testimony from Congress during impeachment; the release of a summary of the Mueller probe; and the decision to drop charges against Trump ally Mike Flynn, who the president pardoned after the election.

Barr also made public comments in line with Trump's concerns about the risk of voter fraud through mail-in ballots.

In October, Republican lawmakers demanded a criminal probe of Hunter Biden, but the DOJ did not respond. Senate Republicans had conducted their own investigation, which they released shortly before the election – in a move that itself would mostly likely have broken Senate mores several years back.

Trump had raged about Barr on Twitter since news of Hunter probe broke. Hunter Biden said last week he was being investigated for tax issues, and said an 'objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisors.'

Information purporting to show his dealings with top officials of Chinese energy giant CEFC were contained on a laptop that Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani provided to the New York Post before the election.

Trump on Saturday linked his complaints about Barr to his effort to overturn the election, a day after the Supreme Court refused to hear a Texas case where he sought to intervene.

'IF Biden gets in, nothing will happen to Hunter or Joe. Barr will do nothing, and the new group of partisan killers coming in will quickly kill it all. Same thing with Durham. We caught them cold, spying, treason & more (the hard part), but “Justice” took too long. Will be DOA!'

The Durham probe refers to the investigation by U.S. attorney John Durham, appointed by Barr to investigate alleged misconduct by the FBI in the Russia probe. That probe disappointed Trump by failing to produce any bombshells in the days before the election.

Hunter Biden has faced a series of new revelations about his dealings, including that he failed to disclose $400,000 in payments from Ukrainian energy company Burisma on his 2014 tax returns, according to an email from his notorious subpoenaed laptop.

Eric Schwerin, president of Biden's firm Rosemont Seneca, sent the email on January 16, 2017, noting that Hunter Biden's total income for 2014 was more than $1.2 million, according to NBC News.

It follows confirmation earlier this week that the Justice Department is investigating Hunter Biden's tax matters, including his lucrative dealings with China.

'In 2014 you joined the Burisma board and we still need to amend your 2014 returns to reflect the unreported Burisma income,' says the email from Schwerin.

The email notes that Biden's 2014 income included the $400,000 from Burisma as well as income from Rosemont Seneca Advisors and a legal firm.

It's unclear from the email whether Biden went on to amend the tax return. His longtime attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment from on Saturday.

NBC News said that it obtained the email from Rudy Giuliani's attorney Robert Costello, who had access to the notorious laptop that Hunter Biden reportedly left in a Delaware repair shop.

A federal prosecutor in Delaware subpoenaed the laptop's contents as part of an ongoing probe.

Hunter Biden's foreign business dealings became a point of contention during the election, after the New York Post ran reports about revelations from a discarded laptop.

Biden's campaign attacked the articles as Russian disinformation and smears.

'Not one single solitary thing was out of line,' Joe Biden insisted of his son's dealings in the second presidential debate. 'My son has not made money in terms of this thing about, what are you talking about, China.'

Now, it has been revealed that the tax investigation into Hunter Biden was launched in 2018, the year before the elder Biden announced his candidacy for president.

Hunter Biden confirmed the existence of the investigation on Wednesday, saying he learned about it for the first time the previous day.

'I take this matter very seriously but I am confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisors,' he said in a statement.

It isn't clear which entities or business dealings might be tied up in the probe, though a person with knowledge of the matter said at least some of focus was on his past work in China.

Federal investigators served a round of subpoenas on Tuesday, including one for Hunter Biden, according to another person familiar with the investigation.

Investigators did not reach out until recently because of Justice Department practice against taking overt investigative actions in the run-up to an election, one of the people said.

President Donald Trump lashed out at Barr over revelations that the Justice Department kept investigations into Hunter Biden secret leading up to the election.

'Why didn't Bill Barr reveal the truth to the public, before the Election, about Hunter Biden,' Trump tweeted on Saturday morning from the White House.

'Joe was lying on the debate stage that nothing was wrong, or going on - Press confirmed. Big disadvantage for Republicans at the polls!' he continued.

Another emails from 2017 shows that Hunter Biden requested keys from a property manager for his 'office mates', including his father Joe Biden and an 'emissary' from a Chinese business partner.

Joe Biden has repeatedly denied any involvement in his son's foreign business dealings with China, which were this week revealed to be the target of a federal investigation.

The September 20, 2017 email requests copies of keys from an office building manager in Washington DC for Joe and Jill Biden , along with Joe's brother James Biden and 'emissary' Gongweng Dong.

The email, first reported by the Daily Caller and also obtained by Fox News, describes Dong as the emissary of Ye Jianming, the disgraced former chairman of Chinese energy company CEFC.

'[P]lease have keys made available for new office mates: Joe Biden, Jill Biden, Jim Biden, Gongwen Dong (Chairman Ye CEFC emissary),' the email reads.


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