AG Bill Barr reportedly told a US attorney ‘I am going to f—ing fire your a–‘ if he talked to Matt Gaetz about DOJ business

Bill Barr
Attorney General Bill Barr has called China and Huawei a “monumental danger” to US economic and national security interests.

  • Bill Barr threatened to fire a US attorney after he spoke with Matt Gaetz about DOJ business, Politico reported.
  • “If I ever hear of you talking to Gaetz … I am going to f—ing fire your a–,” Barr said.
  • He reportedly made the threat last year, while the DOJ was investigating Gaetz for sex trafficking.
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Then-Attorney General Bill Barr was furious last year after a US attorney close to Rep. Matt Gaetz spoke to the lawmaker about Justice Department business, Politico reported Wednesday.

“If I ever hear of you talking to Gaetz or any other congressman again about business before the department, I am going to f—ing fire your a–,” Barr reportedly told Larry Keefe, Gaetz’s former law partner who then-President Donald Trump later tapped to lead the US attorney’s office for the Northern District of Florida.

The threat came as Keefe was looking to launch an investigation into purported voter fraud in Florida while then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was on the cusp of being the party’s nominee for the general election, according to Politico.

The exact timing of Barr’s phone call to Keefe is not clear, but it took place in the late summer or early fall, as the department was also investigating whether Gaetz had sex with a minor and broke federal sex-trafficking laws.

Sources familiar with the matter told Politico that lawyers in the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section were concerned that the scope of the investigation Keefe wanted was too broad. Keefe, meanwhile, is said to have discussed the situation with Gaetz. The Florida lawmaker told Politico that he and Keefe had just spoken broadly about “legal doctrine related to jurisdiction and venue” and not about the specifics of any investigation.

Eventually, Trump learned of their conversation, and Gaetz told Politico he’d spoken to the former president about voter fraud linked to absentee ballots, and then raised a legal theory Keefe had mentioned to him.

“I said to [Trump] that an appreciation for the Keefe position on venue would give good U.S. attorneys in every capital city the necessary jurisdiction to root out fraud,” Gaetz told Politico. “I also shared with President Trump that Keefe had faced substantial resistance from the Department of Justice.”

Gaetz said Trump told then-White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who was at the meeting, to discuss the idea with Barr. Upon hearing about the conversation, Barr became infuriated and called Keefe and threatened to fire him, Politico said.

Gaetz told the outlet he was not aware of the phone call but noted that he did get a call from Keefe saying he couldn’t discuss DOJ matters with Gaetz. Keefe told the outlet it was “not appropriate” for him to discuss his work as US attorney but that he stands by his decisions.

Barr was one of several senior Trump appointees at the department who were aware of – and greenlit – the investigation into Gaetz. Earlier this month, Politico reported that Barr specifically avoided being seen or photographed with Gaetz in public while the investigation was ongoing.

The New York Times revealed the existence of the Gaetz sex-trafficking probe late last month. The Republican lawmaker has denied any wrongdoing and said he never paid women for sex or had a sexual relationship with a minor as an adult man. Prosecutors are said to have zeroed in on Gaetz as part of a broader probe into his associate, the former Florida tax collector Joel Greenberg. Greenberg has been indicted on 33 felony counts, including carrying out the sex trafficking of a minor between the ages of 14 and 17.

Earlier this month, prosecutors and Greenberg’s defense attorneys told a federal judge that they were close to striking a plea deal.

“I’m sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today,” Greenberg’s lawyer, Fritz Scheller, told reporters afterward.

The Times later reported that Greenberg has been cooperating against Gaetz since last year.

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Court rules Uber and Lyft must face worker-misclassification lawsuit from Massachusetts’ attorney general

Uber Lyft

A Massachusetts state court on Thursday rejected requests by Uber and Lyft to dismiss a lawsuit accusing the companies of illegally misclassifying their drivers as independent contractors.

The lawsuit, brought by the Massachusetts state attorney general Maura Healey in July, alleged the companies have denied drivers benefits and workplace protections guaranteed to employees by instead classifying them as contractors.

Uber and Lyft then asked the court to toss the case, arguing the state hadn’t done enough to prove drivers were denied benefits and that there wasn’t a legitimate legal dispute over the issue. The court denied both companies’ requests, allowing the case to proceed.

Uber and Lyft did not respond to requests for comment on this story, while labor and driver groups praised the ruling.

“This court order is a complete rejection of Uber and Lyft’s position and a big win for working people,” Massachusetts AFL-CIO president Steve Tolman told Insider in a statement.

“Every worker should be able to earn a decent wage, take care of their health, and protect against harassment and discrimination on the job. We thank Attorney General Healey and her team for holding Uber and Lyft accountable for following the same rules that apply to every other company,” Tolman added.

The two ride-hailing giants have faced an increasing number of legal challenges in recent years over how they classify workers amid growing evidence many drivers are paid less than the minimum wage, and have struggled – particularly during the pandemic – without access to health care, labor protections, and unemployment benefits guaranteed by law to employees.

While companies are typically required to pay into state and federal programs benefiting their workers, Uber and Lyft have passed those costs on to taxpayers. A recent Washington Post analysis found more than 27,000 Uber and Lyft drivers received a combined $80 million from the US government to help them get through the pandemic.

The companies have argued drivers should be considered contractors because they’re able to choose when they can work and which rides they accept, claiming the companies are simply technology platforms that connect drivers and riders.

But a UK court recently rejected that argument, finding Uber and Lyft exercise significant control over drivers – much like a traditional employer – by setting their rates, assigning them rides, and using a rating system to determine their ability to get work on the platform. Uber responded by reclassifying its drivers as “workers,” a category under UK law between employment and contractor, in order to head off further legal disputes with drivers.

California regulators and courts also rejected the arguments put forth by Uber and Lyft, but the companies – along with a coalition of food-delivery companies including DoorDash and Instacart – avoided having to comply with those rulings by spending a combined $200 million to persuade voters to pass a law they wrote that keeps drivers as contractors.

The companies have also spent record amounts on lobbying as the worker classification issue takes the national stage.

The Biden administration’s proposed PRO Act, which wouldn’t automatically reclassify gig workers but would make it easier for them to unionize, has elevated the discussion around which rights and benefits rideshare and food-delivery workers should have – and who should bear those costs.

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McConnell voted to confirm Merrick Garland as attorney general 2 years after saying blocking his Supreme Court nomination was the ‘most consequential thing I’ve ever done’

Biden-Garland
Judge Merrick Garland, right, was nominated by President Barack Obama to the US Supreme Court in March 2016 after the death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, but was subsequently blocked from hearings by Senate Republicans.

  • McConnell voted Wednesday to confirm Merrick Garland as attorney general.
  • The vote came five years after he stonewalled Garland’s nomination for a Supreme Court seat.
  • In 2019, McConnell called that decision “the most consequential thing I’ve ever done.”
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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voted on Wednesday to confirm Judge Merrick Garland as US attorney general, just five years after he blocked Garland’s nomination for a Supreme Court seat.

Garland, a two-decade veteran of the DC Circuit Court, received broad, bipartisan support to lead the Justice Department, with 70 US senators voting in favor of his confirmation and 30 voting against.

Nineteen other Republican senators voted yes along with McConnell, who revealed last month that he would support Garland’s nomination.

Politico first reported on McConnell’s decision to support Garland for attorney general last month. When asked whether he intended to back the judge, McConnell said, “I do.” He did not elaborate.

The Kentucky Republican made headlines in February 2016 as Senate majority leader when, just an hour after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, he announced that he would not grant a Senate hearing to any nominee then-President Barack Obama selected to fill Scalia’s seat. McConnell vowed to keep the seat open for nearly another year, until a new president was elected.

“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” he said at the time. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.” Senate Republicans drew swift backlash for refusing to even grant the appeals-court judge a confirmation hearing and tanking his nomination before he had a chance to testify.

Nearly three years later, McConnell praised himself for the decision, telling The New York Times in a 2019 interview that blocking Garland’s nomination was “the most consequential thing I’ve ever done.” Scalia’s vacant seat was eventually filled by the conservative judge Neil Gorsuch, who President Donald Trump nominated shortly after taking office in 2017.

McConnell has frequently said that reshaping the federal judiciary is his biggest priority and touted the record number of conservative judges the GOP-controlled Senate was able to confirm during Trump’s tenure. The former president worked closely with McConnell and was able to appoint more than 200 judges to the federal bench and three justices to the Supreme Court.

Last year, McConnell faced backlash when he pushed through the confirmation of Trump’s third Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death just weeks before the November general election. Democrats pelted the GOP leader with allegations of hypocrisy over his refusal to grant Garland a confirmation hearing nine months before the 2016 election in order to honor the voters’ choice and doing the opposite in 2020.

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New York prosecutors subpoenaed a property tax agency as part of a criminal investigation into Trump’s business dealings

trump impeached
  • Officials are investigating if Donald Trump manipulated the value of his assets for loan and tax benefits.
  • The Manhattan DA’s office subpoenaed a property tax agency as part of the criminal investigation.
  • It is just one of many legal challenges facing Trump since he left office last month.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office subpoenaed a property tax agency as part of a criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump’s business dealings, Reuters reported on Friday.

The New York City Tax Commission confirmed that they received the subpoena, which could likely result in detailed income and expense statements from the Trump Organization being turned over to the DA’s office.

District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has been conducting an ongoing investigation into Trump’s company over whether it has been inflating his property values to reduce taxes.

Last year, The New York Times reported that Trump had valued properties at significantly different amounts at different times.

For instance, his Seven Springs estate, located north of New York City, was purchased in 1995 for $7.5 million. When trying to get a loan in 2014, Trump’s company valued it at $291 million. On an ethics disclosure form in 2019, it was listed at $50 million.

Manhattan prosecutors previously subpoenaed Deutsche Bank, Trump’s primary lender for decades, seeking documents that could point to potential fraud.

They also interviewed Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, on Thursday as part of the investigation, Reuters reported.

A separate investigation is also being conducted by a New York state official, Attorney General Letitia James. James is also examining Trump’s company, as well as his personal finances, as part of an ongoing civil investigation into whether the former president manipulated the value of his assets for loan and tax purposes.

While there is overlap in what the two investigations are looking at, they are being conducted independently.

They are also just a fraction of the legal woes facing Trump now that he has left office, Insider’s Dave Levinthal has reported.

Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at kvlamis@insider.com.

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Trump reportedly worked with a Justice Department lawyer in a plot to appoint a loyalist as acting attorney general to help him overturn the election

Trump
Donald Trump is pictured attending the D-day 75 Commemorations on June 05, 2019 in Portsmouth, England.

  • Trump reportedly worked with a Justice Department lawyer to try and oust the acting attorney general. 
  • He wanted to replace Jeffrey Rosen with lawyer Jeffrey Clark, The New York Times reported. 
  • Trump backed down after a group of top DOJ leaders said they’d resign if Rosen was fired.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Donald Trump reportedly plotted with a Justice Department lawyer to oust acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen so he could place a loyalist who would put pressure on lawmakers in Georgia to overturn the election in his favor, The New York Times reported Friday.

The story recalls Trump’s final efforts to hold on to power in the days leading up to President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

According to The Times’ Katie Benner, Trump and Jeffrey Clark were working on ways to stir up doubts about the election results. Rosen had not cooperated with Trump’s alleged plan, prompting him to seek out a willing participant in Clark, The Times reported.

Top leaders at the Justice Department threatened to resign if Rosen was fired, which forced Trump to abandon the idea, but not before Clark and Rosen made their opposing arguments to Trump, the newspaper reported.

Trump and Republican allies lost several dozen lawsuits attempting to overturn election results.

Read more: Trump’s threat to bolt from the Republican Party could spark a serious legal fight over his ‘gold mine’ list of supporters who have helped fill the GOP coffers with billions of dollars

Allies including pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell have pushed a baseless conspiracy theory that Dominion Voting Systems switched votes for Trump to votes for Biden in the election. Dominion filed a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against Powell earlier this month. 

The Times reported Trump also pressured Rosen to appoint special counsels, specifically one that would investigate Dominion. 

Insider was unable to reach Clark, and the Justice Department did not reply to a request for comment at the time of publication. 

Clark told The Times its report, which was based on interviews with four former Trump officials, had inaccuracies but did not specify what they were. 

“Senior Justice Department lawyers, not uncommonly, provide legal advice to the White House as part of our duties,” Clark said. “All my official communications were consistent with law.”

In December, Rosen and deputy attorney general, Richard Donoghue reportedly denied Clark’s request to have the department hold a news conference and say they were investigating the fraud allegations.

Trump had focused on the state of Georgia, where Biden had won by a small margin. The Trump administration had put pressure and attacked the then US Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, Byung J. “BJay” Pak. Pak resigned from his role on January 4 and the Justice Department replaced him the next day. 

The Washington Post reported on Thursday the inspector general is now investigating Pak’s sudden departure.

Pak isn’t the only Georgia official Trump tried to pressure. Trump also pleaded with the secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, to “find” additional votes to help him win. 

Additionally, The Times reported Clark had asked Rosen and Donoghue to send Georgia officials a letter that falsely said the department was investigating the state for voter fraud and that they should overturn Biden’s win. On December 31, Rosen and Donoghue told Clark he was wrong since there was no evidence of any fraud. 

Read more: SCOOP: Trump taps his former chief of staff and impeachment lawyers as the gatekeepers to his papers during his post-presidency

Over that weekend, Clark met with Trump and came back to tell Rosen he would replace him ahead of January 6, when Congress met to certify the votes. 

Rosen refused to step down and worked with White House counsel, Pat Cipollone to schedule a meeting with Trump later that night, The Times reported. 

Rosen, Donoghue, and Clark met with Trump, Cipollone, and his deputy Patrick Philbin. Cipollone ultimately convinced Trump it would be unwise to fire Rosen. 

Trump’s unfounded claims of election fraud have been criticized as the spark that fueled the attempted insurrection on January 6 at the US Capitol. Trump supporters breached the building and clashed with law enforcement, halting the joint session of Congress as lawmakers were set to formalize Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. The riot lead to the deaths of five people. 

The House impeached Trump on a charge of inciting an insurrection. The Senate will soon hold a trial and vote on whether to convict the former president. This is the second impeachment Trump faced in his four years in office. 

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Trump reportedly asked his lawyer if he could personally appoint a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden before leaving office

trump thanksgiving
President Trump is seen at the White House on November 26, 2020.

  • President Donald Trump is considering personally appointing a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden in the waning weeks of his presidency, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.
  • Trump consulted White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, and others on the possibility of appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Biden, whose business dealings in Ukraine were at the center of the president’s impeachment.
  • The report comes on the heels of Trump announcing Monday that outgoing Attorney General Bill Barr will be leaving the Justice Department before Christmas.
  • Trump was unhappy with Barr for not publicly announcing a federal investigation into Hunter Biden’s taxes, and later for saying the DOJ and the FBI found no evidence of widespread voter fraud, contradicting baseless conspiracy theories from the president and his allies.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump asked his lawyer if he could personally appoint a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden in the waning weeks of his presidency, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

Trump brought up the matter of appointing a special counsel to investigate the son of President-elect Joe Biden to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, and others, Trump officials and Republicans close to the White House told the AP.

The sources also told the AP that Trump is considering appointing a special counsel to investigate his unsubstantiated claims of election fraud.

Representatives from the White House did not immediately return Business Insider’s request for comment.

The report comes on the heels of Trump announcement Monday that outgoing Attorney General Bill Barr will be leaving the Justice Department before Christmas. Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen will be acting attorney general in Barr’s absence.

Read more: Trump announces Attorney General William Barr will be leaving the Justice Department before Christmas

Trump was unhappy with Barr for not publicly announcing a federal investigation into Hunter Biden’s taxes, according to the AP report. The president was also displeased with Barr, saying that the Justice Department and the FBI didn’t find evidence of widespread voter fraud, contradicting Trump’s election-related conspiracy theories.

Rosen said he was “honored” to fulfill the role as the nation’s top cop and said he “will continue to focus on the implementation of the Department’s key priorities.”

The question remains if the acting attorney general will succumb to the pressure from the president to carry out investigations into his political opponents as Trump enters his final few weeks in office. The president “has even asked his team of lawyers, including personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, to look into whether the president has the power to appoint a special counsel himself,” citing the AP report.

If the probe were to be taken up by the Justice Department under the Trump administration, it would likely be “a more prolonged and complicated investigation” than the current probe into Hunter Biden’s taxes, the AP reported.

The investigation could extend past Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, which would then place the onus upon the incoming administration to keep Rosen or appoint another attorney general. The attorney general reserves the power to terminate special counsel investigations – but only “for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest,” according to the AP.

Read the full story at the AP »

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Attorney General William Barr is reportedly brushing off Trump’s attacks over Hunter Biden investigation as a ‘deposed king ranting’

bill barr
US Attorney General Bill Barr speaks during a press conference in Chicago on September 9, 2020.

  • Trump has shared calls to fire Attorney General William Barr and reportedly held a meeting to discuss firing him.
  • Barr “cannot be intimidated” by Trump and thinks the president’s attacks are a “deposed king ranting,” a source told CNN.
  • The relationship between Trump and Barr is reportedly like a “cold war.”
  • Barr has considering leaving his post before January 20, according to The New York Times.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Trump has recently focused his energy on attacking Attorney General William Barr, calling him a “big disappointment” in a retweet of a message that suggested Barr should be fired immediately.

The president also discussed firing the top lawyer in a Friday morning meeting, according to CNN. He’s reportedly furious over reports that Barr kept the federal investigation into Hunter Biden’s taxes under wraps during the 2020 presidential campaign. 

But Barr “cannot be intimidated” by Trump, a source close to the AG told CNN.

In a tweet, Trump wrote: “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. Big disadvantage for Republicans at the polls!”

The public feud between Barr and Trump as being like a “cold war,” the source told CNN. Barr is, reportedly, “not someone who takes bullying and turns the other cheek.”

Seemingly unbothered, the source disclosed that “none of this matters –  it’s the deposed king ranting. Irrelevant to the course of justice and to Trump’s election loss.”

This isn’t the first time that Barr and Trump have clashed. At the start of the month, the AG defied Trump by stating that the Department of Justice and FBI had not found any evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election.

While Trump is said to be weighing up whether to dismiss Barr just a month before his term is up, Barr is also considered to be considering making an early departure.

Barr has contemplated leaving his post before January 20, according to The New York Times.

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Trump discussed the possibility of firing Attorney General William Barr during a Friday meeting: report

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Attorney General William Barr.

  • President Donald Trump discussed the possibility of firing Attorney General William Barr during a Friday meeting, according to a CNN report.
  • There are no indications of whether the president will follow through with such an action before his term ends in January.
  • Trump is reportedly livid that Barr kept the federal investigation into Hunter Biden’s taxes under wraps during the 2020 presidential campaign.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump discussed the possibility of firing Attorney General William Barr during a Friday meeting at the White House, but there are no indications of whether he’ll follow through with such an action before his term ends in January, according to a CNN report.

In a meeting with advisors, Trump was reportedly livid that Barr reportedly kept the federal investigation into Hunter Biden’s taxes under wraps during the 2020 presidential campaign, according to CNN.

Hunter, the son of President-elect Joe Biden, was a constant source of conservative attacks during the presidential campaign, with many in the Trump orbit relentlessly accusing him of having sought business deals while his father was vice president, despite lacking any verifiable evidence.

Trump was also reportedly angered that Barr was considering leaving his position before Trump’s term in office was complete, according to CNN.

In early December, the president’s displeasure with Barr reached a boiling point, with advisors pleading with him to keep Barr on board. 

On Saturday morning, Trump took to Twitter to complain about Barr’s tenure, calling him “a big disappointment.”

The president also publicly called out Barr for not disclosing the Hunter Biden investigation before the election.

“Why didn’t Bill Barr reveal the truth to the public, before the Election, about Hunter Biden,” he tweeted. “Joe was lying on the debate stage that nothing was wrong, or going on – Press confirmed. Big disadvantage for Republicans at the polls!”

Barr has served as Attorney General since February 2019, succeeding Jeff Sessions, who had a tumultuous tenure after recusing himself from the Russia investigation and drawing the enduring ire of Trump. He previously served in the role under then-President George H.W. Bush from November 1991 to January 1993.

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