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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.

Buffett eyes slow U.S. progress, but says "never bet against America"

Warren Buffett in New York City in 2017. Photo: Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

Warren Buffett called progress in America "slow, uneven and often discouraging," but retained his long-term optimism in the country, in his closely watched annual shareholder letter released Saturday morning.

Why it matters: It breaks months of uncharacteristic silence from the 90-year-old billionaire Berkshire Hathaway CEO — as the fragile economy coped with the pandemic and the U.S. saw a contentious presidential election.

Restaurant software meets the pandemic moment

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Food delivery companies have predictably done well during the pandemic. But restaurant software providers are also having a moment as eateries race to handle the avalanche of online orders resulting from severe in-person dining restrictions.

Driving the news: Olo filed last week for an IPO and Toast is rumored to be preparing to do the same very soon.