Barr Refuses Trump’s Bogus Demands on His Way Out the Door

But in doing so, the AG appears to try to distance himself from some of the same falsehoods he’s had a powerful hand in promoting.

Michael Reynolds/AP

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Outgoing Attorney General Bill Barr on Monday said he saw no reason to appoint special counsels to investigate two of President Trump’s current obsessions: Hunter Biden and false claims of election fraud in the 2020 election. Barr also said he saw “no basis” for the federal government to seize states’ voting machines in an effort to identify fraud—a move reportedly being pushed by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani. 

 “If I thought a special counsel at this stage was the right tool, I would name one, but I haven’t, and I’m not going to,” Barr said during his final press conference before leaving the Justice Department. In another break, Barr said that he agreed with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s assessment that Russia is behind the massive cyberattacks on US federal agencies, an indirect rejection of Trump’s efforts to downplay the attack.

The remarks are almost certain to infuriate the president. But while they add to the apparent falling out between the two men, it’s more than a bit difficult to reconcile Barr’s comments today with his central role in some of the Trump administration’s worst scandals, as well as some of the very same falsehoods he suddenly appears eager to distance himself from. That record includes pushing harmful voter suppression tactics, undermining the Trump-Russia probe, and politicizing federal investigations. If Barr really wants to launder his image as one of Trump’s most loyal allies, he’ll have to do a lot more than the gentle pushback we saw today. 

Either way, until January 20, things are most certainly going to get worse.

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REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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