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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

Dec 15, 2020 - Podcasts

Inside Barr's resignation

Tensions between President Trump and Attorney General William Barr have been running high for weeks. They came to a head on Monday when Trump tweeted that Barr will resign from his post before Christmas, moments after the Electoral College affirmed President-elect Joe Biden's election victory.

  • Plus, could 2020 be the end of pro-democracy movements in Hong Kong?
  • And, what happens if the job you lost during the pandemic won’t come back.
Tina Reed, author of Vitals
15 mins ago - Health

Experts fear a bad flu season on top of COVID

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Public health officials are warning that the U.S. may be on the verge of a dangerous double whammy: COVID and flu, spreading simultaneously.

The big picture: The Delta variant is still circulating across the U.S., and the Omicron variant isn't far behind. On top of that, experts see potential warning signs of a bad flu season, which could leave millions of Americans vulnerable and strain health care resources.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Australia joins U.S. in diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Australia is joining the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games in protest of human rights abuses committed by China's government, Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed Wednesday.

Driving the news: After the Biden administration's announcement that U.S. officials won't attend the Games due to the ongoing genocide of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region of China, Morrison said at a Sydney briefing that Australia would follow suit as "it's the right thing to do."