WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Tuesday called on Attorney General William Barr to immediately launch an investigation into unverified claims about Democrat Joe Biden and his son Hunter, effectively demanding that the Justice Department muddy his political opponent and abandon its historic resistance to getting involved in elections.
With just two weeks to go before Election Day, Trump for the first time explicitly called on Barr to investigate the Bidens and even pointed to the nearing Nov. 3 election as reason that Barr should not delay taking action. Trump has been leveling accusations of corruption against Biden without verified evidence for months, but is stepping up the pressure in the final days of the campaign.
“We’ve got to get the attorney general to act,” Trump said in an interview on “Fox & Friends.” “He’s got to act, and he’s got to act fast. He’s got to appoint somebody. This is major corruption, and this has to be known about before the election.”
Julian Zelizer, a presidential historian at Princeton University, suggested that Trump’s pressure campaign on Barr has moved into uncharted territory for presidential politics.
“The question is, Does Barr erode the guidelines and reforms from the post-Watergate era and move forward with this?” Zelizer said. “We are seeing a total politicization of the justice system in the final stages of an election.”
Trump's pressuring of Barr comes as national and battleground polls show him facing an increasingly narrow path to reelection. The president has repeatedly cited Hunter Biden’s past —often with unsubstantiated claims — as a reason that voters can’t trust Biden in the White House.
The president has been promoting an unconfirmed New York Post report published last week that cites an email in which an official from Ukrainian gas company Burisma thanked Hunter Biden, who served on the company's board, for arranging for him to meet Joe Biden during a 2015 visit to Washington. The Biden campaign has rejected Trump's assertion of wrongdoing and noted that Biden's schedule did not show a meeting with the Burisma official.
Trump has yet to specify what crime he believes the Bidens have committed, but that has not stopped him from going as far as suggesting to voters that Biden belongs in jail.