US Attorney-General William Barr on Monday said he has “no plan” to appoint a special counsel to take over the federal investigation into Hunter Biden’s “tax affairs”, or one to probe allegations of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
Mr Barr announced last week that he would depart from his post as Attorney-General on December 23 – before the end of the Trump administration.
Republicans have demanded that a special counsel be appointed to continue the federal investigation into Hunter Biden to ensure that it continues through the incoming Biden administration. President Donald Trump reportedly had been discussing a potential special counsel for that investigation.
But Mr Barr on Monday said he has no plans to appoint a special counsel for that investigation, or one to review the election, before he leaves the Justice Department.
“I think to the extent that there’s an investigation, I think that it’s being handled responsibly and professionally,” Mr Barr said on Monday about the investigation into Hunter Biden. “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.”
Hunter Biden confirmed earlier this month that he was under federal investigation for his “tax affairs”.
A well-placed government source told Fox News that Hunter Biden has been a subject or target of the grand jury investigation. According to the source, a “target” means that there is a “high probability that person committed a crime,” while a “subject” is someone you “don’t know for sure” has committed a crime.
The source said President-elect Joe Biden is not a subject of any grand jury investigation at this time.
The source also told Fox News that this investigation was predicated, in part, by Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) regarding suspicious foreign transactions.
Another source familiar with the investigation told Fox News the SARs were regarding funds from “China and other foreign nations”.
A Treasury Department official, who did not comment on the investigation, spoke broadly about SARs, telling Fox News that SARs are filed by financial institutions “if there is something out of the ordinary about a particular transaction”.
The official told Fox News that the mere filing of a SAR does not mean there has been a criminal act, or violation of regulations, but instead, flags that a transaction is “out of the ordinary” for the customer. The official noted, though, that a SAR could be part of a money laundering or tax investigation.
The investigation, according to a source familiar with the matter, began in 2018.
Mr Trump, before Mr Barr’s resignation, hit out at the attorney general, calling it a “big disappointment” that he knew about the federal investigation into his opponent’s son and did not disclose it before Election Day.
“Why didn’t Bill Barr reveal the truth to the public, before the Election, about Hunter Biden. Joe was lying on the debate stage that nothing was wrong, or going on – Press confirmed,” Mr Trump tweeted last week. “Big disadvantage for Republicans at the polls!”
A source told Fox News, though, that the President did not ask for Mr Barr’s resignation.
Meanwhile, Mr Barr on Monday said he is “sure” there was voter fraud in the 2020 presidential race but stopped short of calling for a special counsel investigation.
The Attorney-General said he sees “no basis” for the federal government to seize voting machines and examine them for possible fraud.
“Off the top of my head, I’m not going to opine on a constitutional issue as far as the power goes,” Mr Barr said on Monday.
He added, though, that “there are fraud and unfortunately in most elections I think we’re too tolerant of it”.
“I’m sure there was fraud in this election, but I was commenting on the extent to which we had looked at suggestions or allegations of systemic or brace fraud that could affect the outcome of the election, and I already spoke to that, and I stand by that statement,” he said.
Earlier this month, Mr Barr said the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, despite claims by Mr Trump and his campaign’s legal team.
Mr Barr, during an interview with The Associated Press earlier this month, said US attorneys and FBI officials have been working to follow up on specific complaints and information they have received but have not uncovered enough evidence that would change the outcome of the election.
“To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election,” Mr Barr told The Associated Press.
Despite his decision not to appoint special counsels for the Hunter Biden probe or to look into the 2020 election, Mr Barr earlier this month made it public that he appointed US lawyer from Connecticut John Durham, who had been reviewing the origins of the Trump-Russia probe since spring 2019, as special counsel to ensure that investigation could continue.
“Before the election, as you know, I designated John Durham as a special counsel because I wanted to provide him and his team with assurance that they’d be able to finish their work, and they’re making good progress now, and I expect they will be able to finish their work,” Mr Barr said.
“And I am hoping that the next administration handles that matter responsibly.”
Mr Barr appointed Mr Durham as special counsel in October, but it was not made public that he had done so until December.
“On May 13, 2019, I directed John Durham, US lawyer for the District of Connecticut, to investigate certain intelligence and law-enforcement activities surrounding the 2016 presidential election,” Mr Barr wrote in a letter to the Senate and House Judiciary committees dated December 1.
“Although I had expected Mr Durham to complete his work by the summer of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as additional information he uncovered, prevented him from doing so.”
Mr Barr said he “decided to appoint Mr Durham as a Special Counsel to provide him and his team with the assurance that they could complete their work, without regard to the outcome of the election” and that he appointed Mr Durham with “the powers and authority of a Special Counsel” on October 19.
In a scope order, obtained by Fox News, Mr Barr stated that Mr Durham “is authorised to investigate whether any federal official, employee, or any other person or entity violated the law in connection with the intelligence, counterintelligence, or law-enforcement activities directed at the 2016 presidential campaigns, individuals associated with those campaigns, and individuals associated with the administration of President Donald J. Trump, including but not limited to Crossfire Hurricane and the investigation of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III”.
Under US code, the special counsel would produce a “confidential report” and is ordered to “submit to the Attorney-General a final report, and such interim reports as he deems appropriate in a form that will permit public dissemination”.
This article originally appeared on Fox News and was reproduced with permission