US Attorney-General William Barr, one of Donald Trump’s staunchest allies, is resigning amid tension with the president over his baseless claims of election fraud and the investigation into president-elect Joe Biden’s son.
Mr Barr went to the White House on Tuesday (AEDT), where Mr Trump said he submitted his letter of resignation.
Making the announcement via Twitter, Mr Trump said he had “just had a very nice meeting” with the outgoing attorney-general.
“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,” he wrote.
Mr Barr, who had angered Mr Trump by not supporting his incorrect claims that the November 3 election result had been tainted by widespread fraud, said he would leave office on December 23, a little less than a month before Biden is sworn in on January 20.
Mr Trump has also been angry the Justice Department did not publicly announce it was investigating Hunter Biden ahead of the election, despite department policy against such a pronouncement.
Mr Trump said Deputy Attorney-General Jeff Rosen, whom he labeled “an outstanding person,” will become acting attorney-general.
Over the weekend, Mr Trump lashed out at Mr Barr on Twitter after the Wall Street Journal reported that Mr Barr knew earlier this year about an investigation into Mr Biden’s son Hunter’s taxes.
Mr Trump retweeted a comment from radio host Todd Starnes saying Mr Barr should be fired.
“A big disappointment!” Mr Trump said in his tweet.
Barr’s resignation letter
In a December 14 letter addressed to Mr Trump – which he included in his twitter anouncement – Mr Barr praised the “successes and unprecedented achievements” of the Trump administration.
With no apparent animosity, Mr Barr wrote: “I am greatly honored that you called on me to serve your Administration and the American people once again as Attorney General”.
“Your record is all the more historic because you accomplished it in the face of relentless, implacable resistance.
“At a time when our country is so deeply divided, it is incumbent on all levels of government, and all agencies acting within their purview, to do all we can to assure the integrity of elections and promote public confidence in their outcome,” Mr Barr wrote.
Mr Barr wrote that the president was the victim of constant partisan attacks and that he’s grateful for being able to work with the Trump administration.
The letter praised Mr Trump for his handling of the COVID vaccine, border security, his policies with China. He took a parting shot at the investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election, describing an “effort to cripple, if not oust, your Administration with frenzied and baseless accusations of collusion with Russia.”