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 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.

 “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.

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.

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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