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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.

Go deeper

Jan 24, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Exclusive: 85% diversity on Biden people team

President Joe Biden conducts a virtual swearing-in ceremony for members of his new administration. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Biden administration will announce a slate of political appointees to the Office of Personnel Management on Monday, and more than 85% of them identify as people of color, women or LGBTQ, according to a copy of the list obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: President Biden has pledged a diverse Cabinet and government, and his gatekeepers to it reflect that promise through their own ranks.

Updated Jan 25, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Sarah Huckabee Sanders announces run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced in a video Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic."

Updated 3 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm lashed much of the East Coast Sunday and Monday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: Authorities in North Carolina confirmed that two people died in a car crash and that they responded 600 vehicle accidents during the storm on Sunday, per the Washington Post.