William Barr: no plans to name special counsel to investigate vote fraud claims

By Guardian staff and agencies

Sign up for the Guardian’s First Thing newsletter

The US attorney general, William Barr, said on Monday he has no plans to appoint a special counsel to investigate claims of fraud around the US election, which have been baselessly made by Donald Trump and many of his political allies.

Trump has not conceded defeat to Joe Biden and continues to tout conspiracy theories about mass fraud at the polls.

Asked about Trump’s wishes on Monday, Barr said: “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 also said he would not be appointing a counsel to investigate the business interests of Hunter Biden. The son of president-elect Joe Biden has long been the target of attacks by Donald Trump and Republican supporters of the president, who have made wide-ranging accusations of corruption.

Hunter Biden disclosed earlier this month that the US attorney’s office in Delaware is investigating his tax affairs.

Barr, Trump’s second attorney general, is set to leave office on Wednesday, with his president angry that the Hunter Biden investigation was not revealed before the recent election.

Speaking to Fox News earlier this month, Trump said Barr “should have stepped up”.

“All he had to do is say an investigation’s going on,” Trump said. “When you affect an election, Bill Barr, frankly, did the wrong thing.”

On Monday, at his final news conference at the Department of Justice, Barr said: “I think to the extent that there’s an investigation, I think that it’s being handled responsibly and professionally currently within the department.

“And to this point, I have not seen a reason to appoint a special counsel, and I have no plan to do so before I leave.”

Attorney generals, not presidents, appoint special counsels. But it was reported last week that Trump suggested giving the title to Sidney Powell, an attorney and conspiracy theorist, so she could investigate electoral fraud.