Former Attorney General William Barr claimed that President Donald Trump was furious when Barr said there was no evidence to suggest the 2020 election had been fraudulent.
"I told him all this stuff was bulls---...about election fraud. Barr stated that it was wrong for him to shovel it out like his team was." Barr spoke with Lester Holt, NBC News' Lester Holt, in an interview scheduled to air Sunday night. The first highlights of the interview were broadcast on Thursday by MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports.
This was Barr's first televised interview since he retired in December 2020 as attorney general. Barr published a book about his time with Trump's administration. This has been criticized by some who believe he kept silent until he could make a profit on book sales.
Holt's interview with more will air tonight at 6:30 ET on "NBC Nightly News" and tomorrow at 10:30 ET on "TODAY." Sunday's prime-time special airs at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.
Barr denied that he had abused his position of attorney general. He acted as Trump's personal counsel, targeting Trump's political enemies and cutting off deals for allies such as Roger Stone and Michael Flynn.
"The narrative was that I was a toady for Trump and that I would do Trump’s bidding. Barr said this in a Thursday night clip on "NBC Nightly News." Holt asked Barr if he thought he was a toady. Barr replied, "Well, no. Because I tried to take all the issues that came to my attention and decide what I believed was right."
Barr admitted that Trump had contributed to his image as the president’s lame. This included calling his name up during the 2019 conversation with Volodymyr Zelenskyy, which led to Trump’s first impoundment. In the call which Trump later described as "perfect", he said that he would have Barr reach to him or his "peoples" about two investigations he desired: one related to an email server linked to Trump's former political rival Hillary Clinton, and another related to Joe Biden (and his son Hunter).
Barr said to Holt that he wasn't aware of the scheme, and that he was "livid" about Trump's statements. "The whole scheme of trying to get the Ukrainians investigating Biden was a foolish one. Barr stated that it was absurd.
Trump said that he didn't have a clear idea of the Department of Justice's role and, to a certain extent, of the President's.
Barr cited his public outrage against Trump's election fraud claims to be an example of him standing up for the president. He claimed that Trump was so angry at the situation, he believed it would be his final day on the job.
Barr claimed Trump summoned Barr to a meeting at the White House on December 1, 2020 after The Associated Press published an interview where Barr stated that there was no evidence to suggest widespread voter fraud, despite Trump's assertions to the contrary.
Barr said to the AP that he has not yet seen fraud on a scale that could've effected a different outcome in this election.
Barr claimed that Trump called him to a meeting in his private dining area and asked him questions about his comments.
Barr claimed that he had told Trump that the Justice Department had examined and found no evidence supporting the various conspiracy theoriesthat Trump's legal team was pushing.
He was asking me about theories and I knew the answers. Barr recalled that I was able tell him, "This was wrong because..."
Trump listened but was clearly angry.
Barr stated that he had told Trump, "I understand you are upset with me." And I'm happy to submit my resignation."
Barr stated that Trump then slapped him on the desk and said, "Accepted." Accepted."
"And then... boom. He grabbed it again. 'Accepted. Go home. Do not return to work. Go home. He said, "You're done."
Trump responded to Barr's interview by writing a letter in which he claimed he was the one asking Barr to resign on that day. He also said that his account was a fabrication.
Barr claimed that Trump was stopped by White House lawyers before he left the premises. They told him he wasn’t fired. But Trump continued to fire at him in public.
He hasn't done any thing. Trump claimed that he has not looked" for voter fraud at an event held at the White House Dec. This is criminal stuff. This is criminal, very bad stuff.
Barr submitted his formal resignation December 14.
Barr wrote to Trump, "I am proud that I have played a part in the many successes & unprecedented achievements you have delivered" in his resignation letter.
Trump tweeted his praises for Barr. Trump tweeted, "Our relationship was a very good one. He has done an exceptional job!" Trump wrote.
Holt, in a broad-ranging interview, challenges Barr about his record as attorney General. The interview will air on Sunday, at 9 p.m. ET. ET on NBC.