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Attorney General William Barr to step down, Trump tweets

Attorney General Bill Barr will resign his position as the nation's chief law enforcement officer, President Trump tweeted on Monday. Barr will leave his position next week, when Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen will become acting attorney general. Yamiche Alcindor joins Judy Woodruff to discuss.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    As we reported earlier, U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr is out. President Trump tweeted late today that Barr is resigning just before Christmas.

    Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen will become the acting attorney general.

    We look at what this means with our Yamiche Alcindor, who, of course, covers the White House for us.

    So, Yamiche, we knew there were some tensions between the two, since the attorney general said he didn't know of any evidence that there had been widespread fraud in this election. But what more do we make of it?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    It's tough to say, because, in one regard, you have Attorney General Bill Barr leaving office praising President Trump, saying that he was at times the target of an abusive system that sought to take him down, and you have President Trump tweeting that Bill Barr, they had a great relationship.

    But when you look under the surface, you understand that President Trump has been taking aim at Attorney General Bill Barr, especially after the attorney general came out and said that his office had seen no evidence of widespread voter fraud that would have tipped the scales and changed the outcome of the election.

    So, yes, it's true that Attorney General Bill Barr says he is resigning. But this was in some ways largely expected, because there are a number of people looking for Attorney General Bill Barr to possibly be fired. Again, he is not being fired right now.

    But a lot of people were wondering whether or not he was going to be fired, because President Trump was getting more and more angry that Attorney General Barr wasn't doing more to try to change the results of the 2020 election in President Trump's favor.

    And we should note that Attorney General Bill Barr was seen as a close ally of the president. He had the president's back time and time again. He took aim at the Mueller investigation, saying at times that it was targeting President Trump unfairly.

    There were also the cases where he intervened, in the case of Roger Stone, another ally of President Trump, saying that he should get a more lenient sentence than what career prosecutors in the Department of Justice were offering.

    That being said, this is in some ways really telling of the Trump administration, because this has been a revolving door at the White House, and here again, just in the last few days, weeks of the president's presidency, here is yet another — another really shocking and surprising ouster of another person coming from this administration.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, Yamiche, I know this news has just broken literally within the hour, but what is it expected that Jeff Rosen, who would be — move up to be the acting attorney general, what could he do, is it expected he could do, in the period of time that he would be in charge of the Justice Department?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, he could do what Attorney General Bill Barr would not do, and that is publicly say that the election was rigged, publicly say that President Trump was, in fact, the real projected winner of this.

    I don't expect him, in some ways, talking to sources, that that is going to happen. But President Trump really wants an attorney general to come out and say: I was — that President Trump was wronged, that he somehow is the rightful winner of this election.

    This new attorney general is going to face fierce pressure from President Trump to do something like that. We have seen President Trump take his case all the way up to the Supreme Court, go to court after court, losing continuously. And, of course, today, we saw the electors come and vote and officially make president-elect Joe Biden just that, the president-elect.

    But the president is going to continue to angrily talk about this, and he's going to be putting pressure on the attorney general to back him.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    All right, Yamiche Alcindor.

    And you will be back a little later to report on another important story.

    For now, thank you, Yamiche.

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