Who is Bill Barr, why is he leaving, and where does this leave Donald Trump and his voter fraud investigation?
Attorney-General Bill Barr, one of President Donald Trump's staunchest allies, is departing amid lingering tension over the President's baseless claims of election fraud and the investigation into president-elect Joe Biden's son.
Trump broke the news on Twitter just moments after Biden clinched enough electoral college votes to secure victory in the US election.
So who is Bill Barr, why is he going, and where does that leave a President who is still refusing to concede defeat?Catch up on the main US politics news from December 15 with our blog.Who is Bill Barr?
Barr, 70, has held the position of Attorney-General since 2019.
He previously held the office from 1991 to 1993.
Barr has generally remained in the President's good graces and has been one of Trump's most ardent allies.
Before releasing special counsel Robert Mueller's full report on the Russia investigation last year, Barr framed the results in a manner favourable to Trump even though Mueller pointedly said he couldn't exonerate the President of obstruction of justice.
He also appointed as special counsel the US attorney who is conducting a criminal investigation into the origins of the FBI's probe of the 2016 election that morphed into Mueller's investigation of possible Trump-Russia cooperation, following Trump's repeated calls to "investigate the investigators".When is he going?
He will depart the role on December 23.
Barr went on Monday to the White House, where Trump said he submitted his letter of resignation.
"As per letter, Bill will be leaving just before Christmas to spend the holidays with his family," Trump tweeted.
The letter contained a full page of praise for Trump's historic record, saying he had helped boost the economy, strengthen the military and curb illegal immigration.
It was followed by one line about him leaving the role.
Barr did not use the word "resign", but simply said he would depart soon.Who will replace him?
Deputy Attorney-General Jeff Rosen will become acting attorney-general.
In making the announcement, Trump labelled Rosen an "outstanding person".Read more about the US election:Why is Barr leaving?
The letter, which came shortly after Barr had briefed the President about the Justice Department's review into the Trump campaign's allegations of voter fraud in the 2020 election, simply states he will spend time with family.
Barr pledged the allegations of voter fraud "would continue to be pursued".
Trump announced Barr's departure on Twitter just moments after Biden clinched victory with the electoral college vote.Ok, so what's the backstory?
Barr's fate in the waning days of the Trump administration has been in question since he said last week that a Justice Department investigation had found no sign of major fraud in the November election, contradicting Trump's false claims.
Barr told US media that attorneys and FBI agents had been working to follow up specific complaints and information they had received, but "to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election".
Trump's legal team had accused Barr of failing to conduct a proper inquiry.
Trump was reportedly unhappy that the Justice Department did not publicly announce it was investigating Hunter Biden over his tax affairs ahead of the election, despite department policy against such a pronouncement.
Trump told Fox News on the weekend that he was disappointed that the investigation had not been disclosed.
Hunter Biden himself announced it last week.
"Bill Barr should have stepped up," Trump said.
Before the election, Barr had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls.
The two had been at odds in the past few months and Barr was said to have been frustrated by Trump's tweeting.
Earlier this year, Barr told ABC News that the President's tweets about Justice Department cases "make it impossible for me to do my job".Where does this leave the Trump administration?
Barr's resignation leaves Trump without a critical ally as he winds down his final weeks in office, and it throws into question open Justice Department investigations, especially the probe into Hunter Biden's taxes.
As the current second-in-command at the Justice Department, Rosen's appointment is not likely to change much in the final weeks before the administration departs.
However, he will continue investigating the allegations of voter fraud.How have people responded to the news?
Senator Lindsey Graham, the Republican leader of the judiciary committee, told reporters at the Capitol he was surprised by the news.
"I think he did an incredibly good job trying to repair damage done to the Department of Justice, trying to be fair and faithful to the law. I think he's got a lot to be proud of," Graham said.
"He fought for the President where he could, as every attorney-general and administration should, but he also didn't cross lines that he shouldn't have crossed."
He said he was referring to disclosing the Biden investigation.
Graham also praised Rosen as a "good man" who he said would "be an ethical leader and a steady hand" at the Justice Department.
Democrats who had long criticised Barr did not lament his departure.
"Good riddance," tweeted House intelligence committee chairman Adam Schiff, who said Barr had "lied to cover for Trump, launched political investigations, subverted justice and the rule of law and violently cracked down on protestors."
House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler, who led an investigation of politicisation of the department, said that "whomever Joe Biden chooses as the new attorney-general will have a tremendous amount of work to do to repair the integrity of the Department of Justice".