Attorney General William Barr, an outspoken proponent of conservative values and an expansive view of presidential power, will leave office before Christmas, President Trump announced in a tweet Monday afternoon.
Trump said he and Barr had a “very nice meeting” at the White House and that their “relationship has been a very good one.”
Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen will become acting attorney general, Trump said.
Just had a very nice meeting with Attorney General Bill Barr at the White House. Our relationship has been a very good one, he has done an outstanding job! As per letter, Bill will be leaving just before Christmas to spend the holidays with his family…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 14, 2020
In a letter to the president, Barr said he is proud to have played a role in Trump’s administration and said he would depart Dec. 23.
Earlier this month, Barr said the Department of Justice found no evidence of widespread election fraud, directly contradicting Trump’s baseless claims that Democrats stole the election. Ahead of the election, Barr had stood by the president, repeating his unsubstantiated claims that mail-in voting was ripe for fraud.
In less than two years on the job, Barr emerged as perhaps the most divisive attorney general in recent memory for a series of controversial actions, including his handling of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russia investigation and his repeated false claims about the integrity of mail-in voting.
But his legacy will forever be stamped by his role leading the forceful removal of peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., in the summer of 2020 to clear the way for a presidential photo-op in front of a nearby church.
Barr joined the administration halfway through the president’s term and quickly emerged as one of Trump’s most loyal and effective defenders. But he came under intense criticism from Democrats and many in the legal community — including even current federal prosecutors — for actions that raised questions about the department’s independence.
Barr was nominated in late 2018 to replace Jeff Sessions, a former senator from Alabama whose time as attorney general was in large part defined by relentless attacks from Trump — in private and in public — because Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation.
Trump considered that unforgivable and sought, but ultimately failed, to get Sessions to quash the investigation.