Dec 12, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump's final days: Sweepstakes on who'll get fired

Via Twitter

President Trump was enraged by a Wall Street Journal scoop that Attorney General Bill Barr worked "for months" during the campaign to conceal the federal investigation of Hunter Biden.

The state of play: The president is re-exploring options for replacing Barr, and Saturday morning tweeted this rebuke: "Why didn’t Bill Barr reveal the truth to the public, before the Election, about Hunter Biden[?]"

A senior White House official said: "It's going to be the longest month."

Why it matters: Barr was viewed as a staunch Trump loyalist — and heavily criticized for the way he pre-spun the Mueller report in the president’s favor. But like many top Trump officials, even he has failed to go far enough to satisfy Trump's desires.

  • For many top officials in the government, it's a white-knuckle ride to Jan. 20 — with Trump making ever more outlandish demands.

The big picture: Life inside the White House since the election has been a daily sweepstakes on who'll get fired first — or at all: Barr, FDA commissioner Steve Hahn or CIA Director Gina Haspel.

Behind the scenes: Trump was privately venting about Barr on Friday with confidants, including Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), sources familiar with the discussions tell me.

  • A congressional source familiar with the discussions said it's unclear whether the president will follow through.

The intrigue: The fact that the Journal article was single-sourced made people close to the president suspect, despite not knowing, that it came directly from Barr — or from a sanctioned representative as a way to burnish his reputation with legal peers post-Trump.

  • To be clear, these sources have no evidence of how The Journal got the story. But that perception is part of what's driving West Wing anger.
  • The Journal's headline: "Barr Worked to Keep Hunter Biden Probes From Public View During Election ... The attorney general knew for months about investigations into Biden’s business and financial dealings."

Barr has discussed with friends the idea of leaving before the end of Trump’s term.

  • The N.Y. Times reported Sunday that Barr might announce his departure before the end of the year. As of Thursday, The Times later reported, Barr planned to stay.

A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment.

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