Mr. Barr brought the Justice Department closer to the White House than any attorney general in a half-century. Defying the distance that federal law enforcement officials have typically maintained from campaign politics, Mr. Barr spent the months leading up to the election echoing Mr. Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud. He also told an interviewer that the country would be “irrevocably committed to the socialist path” if the president were not re-elected.
But he backed off the warnings of voter fraud after the election, saying little publicly for weeks until he said that the department had received no evidence that would overturn Mr. Biden’s election. “To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election,” Mr. Barr told The Associated Press.
That departure from the president was a rare step for Mr. Barr, who had worked to undermine the most significant conclusions of the Russia investigation. Weeks after taking office, he released a summary of the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, that a judge later called distorted and misleading, and he held a news conference just before the full report was released where he described it in the best possible light for Mr. Trump.
Mr. Barr appointed a special prosecutor, John H. Durham, to inspect whether the inquiry was wrongfully opened and he sought the withdrawal of the prosecution of Michael T. Flynn, the president’s first national security adviser. He overruled prosecutors who requested a tough sentencing recommendation for Roger J. Stone Jr., one of Mr. Trump’s longtime advisers.
Mr. Trump also handed him sweeping declassification powers to learn about any intelligence gathered in 2016 about Russia’s election interference, giving Mr. Barr leverage to root around at the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies.
His tenure prompted a handful of career prosecutors to publicly criticize him, highly unusual actions that flouted Justice Department rules prohibiting employees from publicly discussing sensitive internal matters.
“Prosecutors are supposed to do their jobs without regard to party or politics,” Michael Dion, a prosecutor in Seattle, wrote in a letter to the editor in The Seattle Times. “Barr, however, is turning the Justice Department into a shield to protect the president and his henchmen.”