President Donald Trump has not ruled out the possibility of firing his attorney general, Bill Barr, according to an administration official and two people familiar with the matter who also said a sudden departure is not seen as imminent
No decision has been made, an administration official and two people familiar with the matter told NBC News, but any call would ultimately be up to the president.
Barr on Tuesday told The Associated Press that “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election” — comments which appeared to fly in the face of Trump’s baseless and false claims that the election he lost was rigged or involved voter fraud.
Trump is said by these sources to be displeased with Barr for appearing to break with the president on the claims of voter fraud.
One of the people familiar with the situation said that there are people around Trump who have tried to persuade him not to fire the attorney general.
That source was also skeptical that Trump would follow through on any firing, noting that Trump has previously aimed his ire at officials who ended up keeping their jobs.
The Washington Post earlier Wednesday reported that Trump was said to be livid at Barr, and that one official suggested there was a chance he could be fired.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany was asked Wednesday whether Trump had confidence or faith in Barr. She did not answer directly but said that if Trump had any personnel changes they would be announced.
After Barr’s comments to the AP Tuesday, the Justice Department said it has not stopped investigating election related fraud, and it disputed some reports suggesting otherwise.
“Some media outlets have incorrectly reported that the Department has concluded its investigation of election fraud and announced an affirmative finding of no fraud in the election. That is not what the Associated Press reported nor what the Attorney General stated,” a Justice Department spokesperson said.
“The Department will continue to receive and vigorously pursue all specific and credible allegations of fraud as expeditiously as possible,” the spokesperson said.
If Trump is displeased with Barr, it would not be the first time the president has been upset with his attorney general.
Trump had repeatedly railed against his first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, for recusing himself in a Russian election interference investigation, and he forced Sessions out of the job in November of 2018.
Trump’s criticisms did not end there, and Trump supported the man who would then defeat Sessions in the Alabama Senate primary, former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, earlier this year.