will resign just before Christmas, President Trump said Monday, ending a tenure during which Mr. Barr long marshaled the Justice Department to the presidents personal and political agenda before falling afoul of him in recent months. In his two-page resignation letter, Mr. Barr said he would depart Dec. 23 and praised Mr. Trump for what he described as his historic accomplishments in the face of relentless, implacable resistance, and a partisan onslaught in which no tactic, no matter how abusive and deceitful, was out of bounds.Mr. Trump said on Twitter that he met with Mr. Barr on Monday at the White House. Our relationship has been a very good one, he has done an outstanding job! Mr. Trump tweeted, saying the attorney general was leaving to spend the holidays with his family.
The resignation comes after the disclosure of the extensive efforts that the nations top law-enforcement official made for months to shield federal investigations into
son, from public view during the heated election campaign.
That was one of a number of actions Mr. Barr had taken in the lead up to the election that put him at odds with Mr. Trump, who associates said had spoken privately about firing Mr. Barr in recent days.
Mr. Barr took more steps than previously reported to insulate the Hunter Biden investigations, despite calls from President Trump and Republican allies to announce a probe involving the president-elects son. Mr. Barr instructed prosecutors and senior colleagues to prevent word of investigations into Hunter Biden from becoming public and to keep the Justice Department out of campaign politics, according to people familiar with the matter.
Why didnt Bill Barr reveal the truth to the public, before the Election, about Hunter Biden, Mr. Trump tweeted on Saturday. Big disadvantage for Republicans at the polls!
In the resignation letter, dated Monday, Mr. Barr said he gave Mr. Trump an update on the Justice Departments review of voter-fraud allegations in the 2020 election and said those allegations will continue to be pursued.
At a time when the country is so deeply divided, it is incumbent on all levels of governmentto do all we can to assure the integrity of elections and promote public confidence in their outcome, Mr. Barr said.
Justice Department and Elections
Mr. Trump fumed publicly and privately about Mr. Barr after the attorney general said this month that the Justice Department had found no evidence of widespread voter fraud that would reverse Mr. Bidens victory, dealing a blow to Mr. Trumps efforts to challenge the election.
A senior administration official said Mr. Barr resigned of his own accord. He wasnt 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, the official said.
Another person familiar with the matter said Mr. Barr was growing frustrated with Mr. Trumps criticism of him while also sensing his job was in jeopardy and resigned to avoid being fired. Another person said the attorney general had been contemplating his departure for some time.
White House counsel
worked to ensure that the attorney generals departure was arranged on amicable terms, according to people familiar with the matter. Messrs. Trump and Barr rarely had spoken directly recently, communicating instead through Mr. Cipollone, a longtime associate of Mr. Barr.
Mr. Trump tweeted that Deputy Attorney General
who came to the department in May 2019 straight from the No. 2 job at the Transportation Department and without prior experience as a prosecutor, would head the Justice Department. Mr. Trump, who called Mr. Rosen an outstanding person, didnt describe any actions he expected Mr. Rosen to take in the job.
Along with his ire over Mr. Barr not aiding him in his election challenges, Mr. Trump was also publicly unnerved to learn about Mr. Barrs efforts to keep information private about investigations involving Hunter Biden, despite Mr. Trumps calls to announce a probe into the president-elects son.
The president expressed public frustration before the election that an inquiry Mr. Barr ordered into the origins of the Federal Bureau of Investigations Russia investigation hadnt yielded results or prosecutions of his political rivals.
The federal prosecutor overseeing that probe,
was unable to finish his work before Nov. 3, upsetting Mr. Trump and his Republican allies who had hoped the findings would be released before then.
Mr. Barrs resignation came after a nearly two-year tenure atop the Justice Department in which he long had a smooth relationship with Mr. Trump, especially compared with the administrations first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who was ousted. They were in such lockstep that Democrats and current and former Justice Department officials often said Mr. Barr behaved more like Mr. Trumps defense attorney than an apolitical law-enforcement official with a neutral understanding of the rule of law.
His legacy is etched by the decisions he made on behalf of the president and the presidents friends and allies.
Chuck Rosenberg, a former Justice Department official under President George W. Bush
Mr. Barrs refusal to acquiesce to Mr. Trumps demands in recent months does little to repair what Democrats and some former and current Justice Department officials saw as his persistent undermining of the Justice Departments independence from White House influence. They cite in part Mr. Barrs sometimes open disparagement of career prosecutors and his decisions to reverse their work and give lenient treatment to Trump associates such as
who faced criminal prosecutions.
I do not think that the attorney general deserves all that much credit for conducting himself like an attorney general, said
a former Justice Department official under President
George W. Bush,
adding that Mr. Barrs intervention in high-profile cases eroded public confidence in the fairness of the department. His legacy is etched by the decisions he made on behalf of the president and the presidents friends and allies.
Mr. Barrs supporters and many Republicans saw him as a return to more stable conservative control of the department after years of political storms. William Barr was the right man at the right time in overseeing highly political investigations and stood in the breach at times against both the left and the right, said
Sen. Lindsey Graham,
Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Mr. Barr has said that he intervened in the Stone and Flynn cases to correct what he saw as overreach by the prosecutors and flaws in the departments approach to those cases.
By providing rationales for Mr. Trumps bullish approach to the presidency, Mr. Barr gained the space to pursue his longtime priorities of expanding the powers of the executive branch and countering what he sees as the leftward, secular tilt of the nation. He moved quickly on an agenda that included tough-on-crime policies, reactivating the federal death penalty after a nearly 20-year hiatus and focusing on guns, drugs and gang crime.
Inside the Justice Department Mr. Barr had a reputation for being so hard-charging that his close aides nicknamed him the Buffalo. Some prosecutors at the department and other officials complained that his willingness to overturn others decisions and belittle employees made their jobs more difficult. Some career officials said they felt a strain on morale.
Mr. Barr, 70 years old, is a longtime Washington figure who served as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush and later became a corporate telecommunications lawyer.
Scoops, analysis and insights driving Washington from the WSJ’s D.C. bureau.
He has said he joined the Trump administration reluctantly but did so because he believed that the power of the presidency had been eroded by a number of factors, particularly special counsel
investigation into whether there were Trump campaign ties to Russian interference in the 2016 election. He later echoed Mr. Trumps own criticism of the probe, saying he believed it was one of the greatest travesties in American history and an effort by the FBI that had the effect of sabotaging the presidency.
Mr. Barr depicted the results of that investigation in a way that Mr. Mueller and many others described as misleading or overly favorable to Mr. Trump and then worked over the ensuing months to undo some of the prosecutions.
In May 2019, he tapped Mr. Durham, the Connecticut U.S. attorney, to review the origins of the investigation that led to Mr. Muellers appointment. Mr. Barr has said he hoped to make the results of his inquiry public before the election, but Mr. Durham hasnt finished his work.
In October, Mr. Barr appointed Mr. Durham special counsel, meaning he can only be removed for cause and likely leaving the probe for his successor as attorney general to address. Mr. Barr didnt disclose that appointment until Dec. 1.
Corrections & Amplifications William Barr resigned as attorney general. An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to his firing. (Corrected on Dec. 14)
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