Attorney General William Barr went to great lengths to prevent prosecutors and senior Justice Department officials from revealing the existence of federal tax investigations into Hunter Biden before the election, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The report includes new details of Barr’s efforts to keep the investigations under wraps.
Monday’s report adds to a growing list of frustrations President Donald Trump has with Barr and may catalyze the president’s efforts to fire the attorney general weeks before he leaves office.
Attorney General William Barr went farther than previously known to prevent the existence of tax investigations into Hunter Biden from becoming public knowledge, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
The outlet reported last week that Barr kept the investigations into President-elect Joe Biden’s son under wraps in the months leading up to the November general election.
Monday’s report sheds new light on those efforts, revealing that Barr and senior Justice Department officials specifically asked prosecutors if their staff members could be trusted and warned them against issuing subpoenas or taking other public investigative steps before the election.
The attorney general issued the directive because he wanted to keep the Justice Department out of campaign politics, in accordance with longstanding department policy.
Monday’s news will likely further infuriate President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans, who repeatedly tried to gin up public sentiment against Joe and Hunter Biden in the weeks before the election and asked the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to investigate the younger Biden.
Earlier this month, Hunter Biden announced that federal prosecutors in Delaware were investigating his “tax affairs.” In the days since, it’s been reported that there were at least two separate investigations into Biden’s finances, one in the Delaware US attorney’s office and another in the Manhattan US attorney’s office. The latter initially started off as a money-laundering probe but has since fizzled out because of a lack of evidence and is now primarily a tax investigation.
The Associated Press also reported over the weekend that Hunter Biden was subpoenaed last week and was asked, among other things, to provide information about his work on the board of the Ukrainian natural-gas company Burisma Holdings. He was also asked to turn over documents related to business dealings in China and other financial activities.
The president-elect is not a subject of interest in the investigations, and his son denies wrongdoing and has not been charged with any criminal activity. Still, Justice Department veterans told Business Insider last week, the Hunter Biden probes will be a litmus test for whether the elder Biden can adhere to his pledge not to interfere with the department when he takes office.
Trump, for his part, has been furious with his attorney general for months beginning with Barr’s failure to deliver on politically charged investigations targeting former Obama administration officials over the FBI’s Russia probe in the months before the election. After the election, Barr again drew Trump’s ire when he publicly confirmed that the department had no evidence of widespread voter fraud, a statement that flew in the face of Trump and his legal team’s claims of a rigged election.
After The Journal reported last week on Barr’s efforts to shield the Hunter Biden probes from public view, Trump considered firing him during a White House meeting on Friday before aides talked him out of it. The president also unloaded on the attorney general in a Fox News interview Sunday, saying, “Bill Barr frankly did the wrong thing.”
Barr, meanwhile, has reportedly shrugged off Trump’s remarks as being those of a “deposed king ranting.” One source also told CNN that Barr “cannot be intimidated” by Trump, and The Journal reported that he intends to stay on at the department unless he’s fired.
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