Outgoing attorney general says he has ‘no plan’ to appoint special counsels
Attorney General Bill Barr said Monday that he’s “sure” voter fraud took place in the 2020 presidential election.
The attorney general confirmed that he is “sure there was fraud in this election” but refused to commit to appointing a special counsel to investigate the matter before he leaves the Department of Justice (DOJ) this week.
Barr also said he sees “no reason” to extend the federal investigation surrounding Hunter Biden’s shady foreign business deals by appointing a special counsel.
“To the extent that there’s an investigation, I think that it’s being handled responsibly and professionally currently within the department,” Barr told reporters at a Monday press conference.
“To this point, I have not seen a reason to appoint a special counsel,” Barr said, in likely his final public comments before stepping down from his Justice Department post.
“And I have no plan to do so before I leave,” the outgoing AG added.
The attorney general affirmed his position that he will not launch a federal probe into allegations of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential race before he leaves office on Wednesday, despite acknowledging that he believes the election was rigged.
He did not comment on whether his incoming replacement will do so, however.
Barr announced last week that he would depart from his post as attorney general on December 23.
Republicans have demanded that a special counsel be appointed to continue the federal investigation into Hunter Biden to ensure that it continues through the incoming Biden administration.
President Trump reportedly had been discussing a potential special counsel for that investigation.
However, Barr refuses to set the wheels in motion before he retires, saying he sees “no reason.”
Attorney General William Barr says he has “not seen a reason to appoint a special counsel” to investigate Hunter Biden, and has “no plan to do so” before he steps down https://t.co/Nj065CIsxp pic.twitter.com/My7WnkdTTq
— CBS News (@CBSNews) December 21, 2020
Hunter Biden confirmed earlier this month that he is under federal investigation for his “tax affairs.”
Investigators are looking into whether Hunter and his business associates violated various tax and money laundering laws, CNN said.
The probe is focused on Hunter’s business dealings in China and other countries and involves transactions with people who posed counterintelligence concerns, CNN said.
The investigation was resumed after the election and is entering a new phase, with the FBI and IRS issuing subpoenas and seeking interviews, CNN added.
Fox News reported that the probe includes examining the Hunter Biden laptop exposed by The Post, citing two sources familiar with the investigation.
The probe is before a grand jury and involves so-called “Suspicious Activity Reports” from banks flagging transfers of funds from China and other nations, Fox News also said.
A “well-placed government source” reportedly told Fox that Hunter Biden is a subject/target of the grand jury investigation.
According to the source, a “target” means that there is a “high probability that person committed a crime,” while a “subject” is someone you “don’t know for sure” has committed a crime.
The source said it’s not yet known if Joe Biden is a subject of any grand jury investigation at this time.
President Trump, before Barr’s resignation, hit the attorney general, calling it a “big disappointment” that he knew about the federal investigation into his opponent’s son and did not disclose it before Election Day.
“Why didn’t Bill Barr reveal the truth to the public, before the Election, about Hunter Biden,” Trump tweeted last week.
“Joe was lying on the debate stage that nothing was wrong, or going on – Press confirmed.”
“Big disadvantage for Republicans at the polls!”
Why didn’t Bill Barr reveal the truth to the public, before the Election, about Hunter Biden. Joe was lying on the debate stage that nothing was wrong, or going on – Press confirmed. Big disadvantage for Republicans at the polls!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2020
A source told Fox News, though, that the president did not ask for Barr’s resignation.
Meanwhile, Barr, on Monday, said he is “sure” there was voter fraud in the 2020 presidential race, but stopped short of calling for a special counsel investigation.
The attorney general said he sees “no basis” for the federal government to seize voting machines and examine them for possible fraud.
“Off the top of my head, I’m not going to opine on a constitutional issue as far as the power goes,” Barr said Monday.
He added, though, that “there are fraud and, unfortunately in most elections, I think we’re too tolerant of it.”
“I’m sure there was fraud in this election, but I was commenting on the extent to which we had looked at suggestions or allegations of systemic or brace fraud that could affect the outcome of the election, and I already spoke to that, and I stand by that statement,” he said.
Despite his decision not to appoint special counsels for the Hunter Biden probe or to look into the 2020 election, Barr, earlier this month, made public that he appointed U.S. Attorney from Connecticut John Durham, who had been reviewing the origins of the Trump-Russia hoax since Spring 2019, as special counsel, to ensure that investigation could continue.
“Before the election, as you know, I designated John Durham as a special counsel because I wanted to provide him and his team with assurance that they’d be able to finish their work, and they’re making good progress now, and I expect they will be able to finish their work,” Barr said.
“And I am hoping that the next administration handles that matter responsibly.”
Barr appointed Durham as special counsel in October, but it was not made public that he had done so until Dec. 1.
“On May 13, 2019, I directed John Durham, U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut, to investigate certain intelligence and law-enforcement activities surrounding the 2016 presidential election,” Barr wrote in a letter to the Senate and House Judiciary Committees dated Dec. 1.
“Although I had expected Mr. Durham to complete his work by the summer of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as additional information he uncovered, prevented him from doing so.”
Barr said he “decided to appoint Mr. Durham as a Special Counsel to provide him and his team with the assurance that they could complete their work, without regard to the outcome of the election” and that he appointed Durham with “the powers and authority of a Special Counsel” on Oct. 19.