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Attorney General William Barr. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The White House asked the Department of Justice to intervene in the defense of President Trump's defamation lawsuit brought by writer E. Jean Carroll, who's accused him of rape, Attorney General William Barr said Wednesday.

Driving the news: Carroll said the DOJ's move to replace Trump's private lawyers in the case shows that he "will do everything possible, including using the full powers of the federal government," to block her. But Barr said the intervention was "a normal application of the law."

What he's saying: "The law is clear. It is done frequently," Barr said during a news conference in Chicago. "And the little tempest that's going on is largely because of the bizarre political environment in which we live."

  • He told "NBC Nightly News" Wednesday evening that it's "not particularly unusual" for the DOJ to intervene.
  • Barr said officials followed the Westfall Act, "which says that if someone is an employee of the executive branch or the legislative, and they are sued for a state tort that occurred in the course of them working for the government — of their duties for the government — then they can have it certified to be moved to federal court, and the United States is then substituted as the party."
"This is done frequently. It's been done for presidents. It's been done for congressmen. The normal process was followed in this particular case."
— Bill Barr

Background: The DOJ and White House said Tuesday that Trump was "acting within the scope of his office as President of the United States" when he said last year that Carroll was "totally lying" about claims that he raped her in the mid-1990s.

Go deeper

Barr authorizes federal prosecutors to investigate voter fraud allegations

Photo: Jeff Roberson - Pool/Getty Images

Attorney General Bill Barr has authorized U.S. attorneys to conduct investigations into alleged voter fraud if there are "clear and apparently-credible allegations of irregularities" that could change the outcome of a federal election in a particular state, AP first reported and Axios can confirm.

Why it matters: President Trump has refused to concede the election to President-elect Joe Biden, alleging a conspiracy of widespread voting fraud and corruption by Democratic election officials. He has thus far not provided specific evidence for his claims, which have been shot down by both Democratic and Republican secretaries of state.

3 hours ago - World

Map: A look at world population density in 3D

This fascinating map is made by Alasdair Rae of Sheffield, England, a former professor of urban studies who is the founder of Automatic Knowledge. It shows world population density in 3D.

Details: "No land is shown on the map, only the locations where people actually live. ... The higher the spike, the more people live in an area. Where there are no spikes, there are no people (e.g. you can clearly identify ... the Sahara Desert)."

Biden's Day 1 challenges: The immigration reset

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President-elect Biden has an aggressive Day 1 immigration agenda that relies heavily on executive actions to undo President Trump's crackdown.

Why it matters: It's not that easy. Trump issued more than 400 executive actions on immigration. Advocates are fired up. The Supreme Court could threaten the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and experts warn there could be another surge at the border.