Top Trump aide faces sack as rivals line up for 2024 run
The job of US Attorney-General Bill Barr is hanging by a thread after his boss, Donald Trump, refused to express confidence in his top law enforcement officer.
The President paused dramatically when a journalist asked him to endorse Mr Barr, who said this week he had not seen evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the election result.
"Ahhhh … ask me that in a number of weeks from now," Mr Trump said when asked if he still had confidence in Mr Barr.
"They should be looking at all of this fraud. This isn't civil, this is criminal, he was looking at civil. This is bad criminal stuff. We went through an election, at 10pm everyone said this was an easy victory for Trump, all of a sudden the votes started miraculously disappearing but we have found many more votes than we need to win these states, every one of them.
"He (Barr) hasn't done anything. He hasn't looked. When he looks, he'll see the kind of evidence that right now you are seeing in the Georgia senate where they are having hearings and seeing tremendous volumes of … (fraud).
"They haven't looked very hard which is very disappointing to be honest with you. Because it's massive fraud. This is probably the most fraudulent election we have ever seen."
His comments came after The Sun reported that President Trump "might fire Bill Barr" after an "intense" White House meeting when the Attorney-General said there's no evidence of voter fraud.
An administration official and two people familiar with the situation told NBC that the president has not ruled out the possibility of getting rid of Mr Barr.
According to the sources, a call to fire Barr would be made by President Trump.
However, the sources also said the possible firing is not expected to happen anytime soon, NBC News reported.
The report comes as Barr had an "intense" meeting with President Trump on Wednesday.
Sources told ABC News about the allegedly fiery exchange between the attorney general and Trump - but didn't reveal any more information on their meeting.
Mr Barr said this week that there have been no claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
He said: "To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.
"There's a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all, and people don't like something they want the Department of Justice to come in and 'investigate.'
"Most claims of fraud are very particularised to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. They are not systemic allegations.
"And those have been run down; they are being run down. Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."
Not surprisingly, Mr Barr's comments are reported to have greatly irritated the president who insists the election was "stolen" from him.
His interview comes amid President Trump's repeated claims that the election was stolen, and his refusal to concede his loss to President-Elect Joe Biden.
Mr Barr has been one of the president's most avid allies.
Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voter fraud could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.
GOP PUSHES ON WITH JANUARY SUMMIT FOR 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES
Meanwhile, the Republican Party is going ahead with a special meeting next month to be attended by a number of potential presidential candidates for 2024, despite Mr Trump making it clear he is considering another tilt.
Ronna McDaniel, President Trump's hand-picked head of the Republican National Committee,
is putting out the welcome mat even as Trump signals he may run again in 2024 - even while also saying he "won" the November election, which he calls "rigged".
Mr Trump told party members at a White House Christmas party this week: "It's been an amazing four years. We are trying to do another four years. Otherwise, I'll see you in four years."
Politico reported that among those set to attend the meeting are former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Vice President Mike Pence and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem.
It's not clear whether Mr Trump will take part in the meeting after he makes his first political outing since the election this weekend when he campaigns in Georgia for Republican senate candidates.
A long list of Republicans are getting invited to the gab-fest, which could be an organising opportunity for any candidates who might be preparing for Trump to drop out or back away, or even try to challenge him.
They include Haley, the former South Carolina governor, Pence, who has campaigned loyally for Trump and defended his handling of the coronavirus, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Mr Trump's children, Ivanka and Donald Jr, are also thought to be considering seeking the nomination if their dad doesn't run.
Originally published as Top Trump aide faces sack as rivals line up for 2024 run