Dec 21, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Barr refutes Trump on Hunter Biden, voting machines, Russia hack

Bill Barr
Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Attorney General Bill Barr told reporters Monday that he sees no reason to name a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden, there is no basis for the federal government to seize voting machines, and that he agrees with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's assessment that Russia was behind the massive recent hack of federal agencies.

Why it matters: Barr has rarely contradicted President Trump so openly, but he did so three times in his last press conference as attorney general.

  • As Axios' Jonathan Swan reported, White House officials have become increasingly alarmed about Trump's behavior after an Oval Office meeting last week in which he discussed commandeering voting machines and appointing conspiracy-spewing lawyer Sidney Powell as a special counsel to inspect them.
  • Barr was viewed as one of the loyal members of President Trump's Cabinet throughout his tenure, which will come to an end after a rocky few weeks in which Trump privately discussed replacing him with somebody more willing to do his bidding.

What he's saying:

  • On Hunter Biden: "I think to the extent that there is an investigation, I think that it's being handled responsibly and professionally, currently within the department. And to this point, I have not seen a reason to appoint a special counsel. And I have no plan to do so before I leave."
  • On voter fraud: "I see no basis now for seizing machines by the federal government. ... If I thought a special counsel at this stage was the right tool and was appropriate, I would name one. But I haven't, and I'm not going to."
  • On the SolarWinds hack: "From the information that I have, I agree with Secretary Pompeo's assessment. It certainly appears to be the Russians, but I'm not going to discuss it beyond that."

Worth noting: The purpose of the press conference was to announce new charges related to the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland in 1988, which killed 270 people. Barr first announced charges in the case as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush in 1991.

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