Attorney General William Barr and Donald Trump in the James Brady Briefing Room in the White House, March 23, 2020 (Alex Brandon/AP)
UPDATE, 0730 GMT:
Donald Trump has reacted with fury at the revelations by former Attorney General William Barr calling out Trump’s election disinformation and lies.
Trump rewrote history as he railed in a statement, “I lost confidence in Bill Barr long before the 2020 Presidential Election Scam. He was afraid, weak, and frankly, now that I see what he is saying, pathetic.”
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Just after the November election of President Joe Biden, Donald Trump’s long-time protector, Attorney General William Barr, finally said that Trump’s disinformation and lies were “bullshit”.
Barr’s refusal to cross the line and declare electoral fraud dented Trump’s hopes of throwing out the vote and remaining in the White House.
In a series of interviews with The Atlantic’s Jonathan Karl, Barr has detailed the sharp difference between his actions in spring 2019 — when he buried the Mueller Report on Trump-Russia links and Trump’s possible obstruction of justice — and November 2020.
Barr said that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was publicly refusing to criticize Trump’s lies, urged him since mid-November to speak out on behalf of the Justice Department.
But McConnell’s approach was not based on respect for the election, the law, or the American system. Instead, he was concerned that Trump’s line was jeopardizing the GOP’s prospect of holding two Senate seats in runoff elections in Georgia on January 5.
Barr recounted the Senator’s words:
Look, we need the President in Georgia, and so we cannot be frontally attacking him right now. But you’re in a better position to inject some reality into this situation. You are really the only one who can do it.
The Attorney General replied, “I understand that. And I’m going to do it at the appropriate time.”
McConnell pleaded in a later call, “Bill, I look around, and you are the only person who can do it.”
On December 1, at lunch in his private dinner room, Barr told Associated Press reporter Michael Balsamo, “To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”
Barr summarized to The Atlantic’s Karl:
My attitude was: It was put-up or shut-up time. 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 bullshit.
“You Must Hate Trump”
After the Associated Press story ran on December 1, Trump summoned Barr. One attendee at the meeting said Trump had “the eyes and mannerism of a madman”.
His face red with anger, Trump opened, “I think you’ve noticed I haven’t been talking to you much. I’ve been leaving you alone.” Then he blurted, “How the fuck could you do this to me? Why did you say it?”
When Barr replied, “Because it’s true,” Trump exclaimed, “You must hate Trump. You must hate Trump.”
Trump tried to press unsupported allegations about the vote in Michigan and other states. Barr pushed him back, “You keep on saying that the Department of Justice is not looking at this stuff, and we are looking at it in a responsible way. But your people keep on shoveling this shit out.” He added:
You know, you only have five weeks, Mr. President, after an election to make legal challenges. This would have taken a crackerjack team with a really coherent and disciplined strategy. Instead, you have a clown show. No self-respecting lawyer is going anywhere near it. It’s just a joke. That’s why you are where you are.
Trump railed about Joe Biden’s son Hunter, the FBI, and its former director James Comey. He concluded with the jab that Barr was worthless.
Two weeks later, Barr told Trump that he would resign by the end of the year.