Speed Reads

You can't fire me I quit

William Barr, on shaky ground with Trump, might resign as attorney general before Biden takes office

Attorney General William Barr has been telling associates he may resign before President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20, The New York Times and The Washington Post reported Sunday, citing at least three people familiar with Barr's thinking. Barr has been one of President Trump's most loyal and acquiescent Cabinet members, but Trump and his allies have increasingly disparaged Barr since the attorney general said last week he has seen no evidence of significant voter fraud, and Trump has reportedly been telling allies he might fire Barr.

Barr first brought up his slightly early resignation after it became clear Biden won, soon after Election Day, one person told Post, and another insisted to the Times this isn't a you-can't-fire-me-because-I-quit situation. "Given the many controversial decisions he has made, it's unclear that a resignation, as opposed to a firing or uneventful departure, would much alter public perception of his tenure," the Post notes. If Barr leaves, Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen would be expected to replace him until Biden is sworn in.

Barr echoed Trump by raising concerns about mail-in voting and fraud before the election, citing "common sense" rather than evidence, and he changed Justice Department policy after the election to allow federal prosecutors to investigate "specific allegations" of voter fraud before states certified the results. But after Trump told Fox News the Justice Department and FBI may have been "involved" with some sort of massive voter fraud, Barr broke with Trump, reportedly enraging the president.

"When Barr first served as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, he stayed in the position until the administration's final week," the Post reports, but "it is not uncommon for Cabinet secretaries to leave their positions before the end of a lame-duck term, or contemplate doing so." Barr became a "millionaire many times over" after leaving the Bush White House and joining GTE, which became Verizon, the Times adds, so it's "unlikely that he will take another full-time job after he leaves the department."