President Trump’s former Attorney General Bill Barr called Mr Trump’s legal team “clownish” and the president’s claims that the election had been stolen from him “bull****,” according to reporting by Axios.
This was during a December meeting in the White House that Mr Trump had asked Mr Barr to attend after seeing a story by the Associated Press that quoted Mr Barr as saying “we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election”.
Mr Barr had been one of the most loyal members of Mr Trump’s administration, supporting his executive power at every turn and spinning the release of the Mueller report on Russian interference in the 2016 election in the best way possible for the president. But he would not go so far as to claim that there was widespread voter fraud when he couldn’t see the evidence of it.
Despite his loyalty to the president, the relationship between Mr Barr and Mr Trump was silently falling apart, Axios writes. Mr Barr left his post on December 23.
Even Mr Trump’s most loyal lieutenants thought that he had got too deep into the conspiracy theories and alternative reality espoused by his legal team led by Mr Trump’s personal lawyer and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
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As the summer of 2020 was coming to a close, Mr Trump wanted to push back hard on the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, some of which had devolved into violence and looting.
The Washington Post reported in October that over 96 per cent of last summer’s Black Lives Matter events were peaceful, involving no property damage or injuries to police officers.
Mr Trump wanted to invoke the Insurrection Act and send troops into the street. Mr Barr was the one who ended up having to push back on the president’s instincts. Both the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Mark Esper did not want the military involved.
During a meeting in the Oval Office in the middle of August, Mr Trump told Mr Barr to facilitate a show of strength in Portland where protests raged. Mr Barr didn’t budge. Slamming his fist on his desk, Mr Trump yelled “No one supports me. No one gives me any f support,” Axios writes.
Mr Barr looked at chief of staff Mark Meadows, and said: “Well that went well.”
It was the disagreement between Mr Trump and Mr Barr about how forceful they should be in their response to the summer’s protests that slowly made their relationship disintegrate. Mr Barr was avoiding the president as best he could by the time September came around.
In the middle of October, leading up to the election on November 3, Mr Trump was urging Mr Barr to appoint a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden, then-Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s son who had sat on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, during the time that his father had been President Obama’s vice president. Hunter Biden was being paid up to $50,000 dollars a month and conservatives argued that he was taking advantage of his father position of political power. The Department of Justice was already investigating Hunter Biden, but in keeping with department policy, Mr Barr kept it secret.