By Laura Davison, Bloomberg News
Troy Warren for CNT
Interview is former attorney general’s first public account about his final days in office
Former Attorney General William Barr told then-President Donald Trump that there was no evidence of election fraud, an assertion that was met with profanity from the president, according to a report in The Atlantic.
Barr met with Trump in early December, weeks after Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had urged him to say publicly that Trump’s claims of fraudulent ballots and illegal vote counting weren’t based in fact, according to an interview with Barr.
“We cannot be frontally attacking him right now,” McConnell told Barr after the election. “But you’re in a better position to inject some reality into this situation. You are really the only one who can do it.”
After meeting with McConnell, Barr spoke with The Associated Press in an interview where for the first time he told a reporter that the Justice Department hadn’t found fraud that could have overturned the election.
When Trump learned what Barr told the media, the president went into a meeting with his attorney general with the “the eyes and mannerism of a madman,” The Atlantic reported, citing a person present in the room.
“How the f— could you do this to me?” Trump reportedly asked Barr at the time. “Why did you say it?”
Barr said he told the president that he was only telling the truth.
“You must hate Trump. You must hate Trump,” the former president responded, referring to himself in third-person. To this, Barr pushed back, accusing the president of putting on a “clown show” rather than an organized challenge to the election. “That’s why you are where you are,” Barr claims he said. “You may be right about that,” Trump fired back.
Barr resigned two weeks after the confrontation.
“My attitude was: It was put-up or shut-up time,” Barr told The Atlantic. “If there was evidence of fraud, I had no motive to suppress it. But my suspicion all the way along was that there was nothing there. It was all bull—-.”
The interview is Barr’s first public account about his final weeks as Attorney General. His public renouncement of Trump’s claims was one of the few times he broke publicly with the president. The Justice Department ended up conducting no formal investigations of voter fraud.
Barr told the former president that he was unlikely to win his legal battle to overturn the election results in multiple states. He said he told Trump that he had a “clown show” legal team that “no self-respecting lawyer is going anywhere near.”
Barr said in the interview that Trump agreed that his legal team might be incompetent. A few weeks later, Barr told Trump he was resigning with a letter that included much praise for the president.
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