President Trump on Tuesday called on Attorney General William Barr to “appoint somebody” to launch an investigation into his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter before Election Day, now just two weeks away.
“We’ve got to get the attorney general to act,” Trump said in a telephone interview with “Fox & Friends” when asked whether a special prosecutor should be appointed to probe unverified allegations against the Bidens. “He’s got to act. And he’s got to act fast. He’s got to appoint somebody. This is major corruption, and this has to be known about before the election.”
Trump has repeatedly railed against his attorney general for failing to “lock up” Democrats for alleged crimes, including “spying” on his 2016 campaign. In an interview with Fox Business earlier this month, Trump said that history would look poorly on Barr if he does not prosecute Hillary Clinton and other members of the Obama administration, including Joe Biden.
“Bill Barr is going to go down as either the greatest attorney general in the history of the country, or he’s going to go down as, you know, a very sad situation,” Trump said then.
But Tuesday was the first time he publicly demanded Barr start an investigation before Nov. 3.
Trump, who trails Biden in virtually every national poll, has sought in recent days to magnify a New York Post report — citing unverified emails reportedly taken from Hunter Biden’s laptop hard drive — alleging that Hunter tried to introduce a Ukrainian businessman to his father when Joe Biden was the vice president. The Biden campaign said a review of the elder Biden’s calendars shows no record that a meeting ever occurred.
The FBI has reportedly probed whether the emails are part of a Russian disinformation campaign to interfere in the 2020 election, as dozens of former intelligence officials suspect.
More than 50 former senior intel officials signed a letter outlining their belief that the recent disclosure of the emails “has all the classic earmarks” of a Russian disinformation operation.
Nonetheless, John Ratcliffe, Trump’s director of national intelligence, has said the emails are not part of a Russian disinformation campaign, and nearly a dozen House Republicans have demanded the Justice Department assign a special prosecutor to investigate the case.
In a letter to Barr, 11 GOP lawmakers, including Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Paul Gosar of Arizona and Ted Yoho of Florida, said it was “imperative” that there be “a full accounting of former Vice President Biden’s dealings with his son and his son’s business partners, and if the former vice president misused his office for personal gain.”
“If these reports about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, are true, the former vice president fell far short of his responsibility to uphold his constitutional oath and betrayed the sacred trust of the American people,” the letter reads.
A Trump ally told Yahoo News that last week there were conversations inside the White House and inside Justice about appointing a special counsel to investigate the Bidens. According to the ally, the thinking was that the Justice Department could appoint “somebody above reproach, above partisanship,” such as a former FBI director or prosecutor who had been appointed in a Democratic administration.
The ally also noted that Biden would be unable to interfere with any special prosecutor even if he defeats Trump. With polls showing Biden leading both nationally and in key states, the Trump ally argued that, if Biden does win, a special counsel probe would ensure “his presidency is sidelined before it even starts.”
A source close to Trump was dubious that Barr would be open to naming a special counsel to look into Biden. They cited Barr’s handling of U.S. Attorney John Durham’s probe of roots of the FBI investigation into Trump’s 2016 campaign, and the fact that any new investigation would likely be highly controversial if it began in the home stretch of the presidential race.
“Barr’s not going to do anything this close to an election,” the source said.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Biden campaign, for its part, has continued to challenge the legitimacy of the allegations.
“Investigations by the press, during impeachment, and even by two Republican-led Senate committees, whose work was decried as ‘not legitimate’ and political by a GOP colleague, have all reached the same conclusion: that Joe Biden carried out official U.S. policy toward Ukraine and engaged in no wrongdoing,” Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said. “Trump administration officials have attested to these facts under oath.”
This article has been updated to include quotes from a source.
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