The former Attorney General William Barr stated that he believes former President Donald Trump was morally responsible for Jan. 6, 2021's riot at U.S. Capitol, but not legally.
Barr was asked by Lester Holt, NBC News, whether he believed Trump was "responsible for" the violence at Capitol. "
He said that he had not seen any evidence that Trump was guilty of an actual crime.
Holt interviewed Barr in a prime-time special on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET. This is Barr's first television interview since he resigned as attorney general in December 2020, after 22 tumultuous and difficult months.
Barr said Monday morning that he didn't believe Trump should be the GOP nomination and would support another Republican candidate. Barr was asked if he would vote to elect Trump if he won the party nomination in 2024.
He stated that he believes that the greatest threat to America is the progressive agenda being promoted by the Democratic Party.
Barr was a long-standing proponent of broad presidency power and was frequently accused of acting as Trump’s lackey. He was also asked if he would have investigated Trump over classified documents that the National Archives claimed were taken to his Mar-a-Lago resort, Florida, after Trump left office.
Barr stated, "To tell the truth, it's probably not illegal for me to do so." He said that Trump was likely to have taken the documents without his permission.
"The entire classification system is done by executive order. The president decides all things." Barr stated, though there are no signs Trump has officially declassified any documents that have left the White House.
Barr was interviewed ahead of publication of his memoir, "One Damn thing after another: Memoirs from an Attorney General," which recounts his time at the White House. Responding to Barr's interview, and his account about his time working with Trump, Trump wrote to NBC News and said that the book was fake. He called Barr a coward and a big disappointment. "
While he was Trump's attorney General, Democrats and some ex-prosecutors criticised Barr for acting as Trump’s personal lawyer and not as an independent law enforcement officer. He defended his decisions as attorney general which were consistent with Trump's demands, often via Twitter.
Barr was also the attorney general of President George H.W. Bush acknowledged that he spent more time at the White House during Trump's presidency.
Barr stated that he thinks he was at the Oval Office six or seven times when he was A.G. Bush. "
He described the meetings as "sort of like floating card games." "
He said, "There were always players coming in and out." "There was never a beginning nor an end." "
Holt interviewed Barr in a broad interview. He defended some of his most controversial actions as attorney General, including a four page letter he wrote before the release of Robert Mueller's special counsel report on Trump campaign and Russian interference. Mueller also expressed frustration at Barr's failure to capture the context, nature, and substance of the Office's work, and its conclusions. "
Barr stated that Mueller's team didn't find any evidence that Trump campaign members conspired with Russian meddling in the 2016 elections. A judge ruled that Barr had missed the fact that there were many contacts between Trump campaign staff and Russian officials.
Barr stated that he "totally rejects" the criticisms from Mueller, judges and others regarding his letter.
Barr stated that he knew it would look bad and would soften the sentence of Roger Stone, a long-time Trump advisor, which Trump has repeatedly called unfair. "
Trump pardoned Stone during his final weeks in office.
Barr also defends his decision to remove Geoffrey Berman from the U.S. Attorney's Southern District of New York. Berman was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and was investigating Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, two of his associates, and former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.
Barr stated that he didn't believe there was a threat to the president and that Berman's decision to can Berman was "my call." "
He said, "I didn't think much of him." "
Barr stated that it was also a coincidence federal police officers brutally cleared protesters from Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C.in June 2020, just before Trump held an opportunity to take photos at a nearby Church with Barr.
A Inspector General's Report last Year concluded that police first intervened to allow a contractor to install fencing -- and not because Trump was there.
"Are these people going to still be here when POTUS is out?" In the report, Barr was quoted saying this to a U.S. Park Police Commander.
Holt was told by Barr that the park was being cleared for law enforcement purposes. Barr added that an attorney general cannot come in and take operational command of the things. "
He claimed that he only found out that Trump was expecting him to go to the park together with him shortly before he left. I thought that was what I was thinking. "
Barr stated that, despite Trump's perception of him being deferential, he would stand by Trump when necessary, including denying his request that James Comey , former FBI Director be prosecuted for allegedly mishandling classified information.
Barr stated that Trump was "very, very upset" that he didn't file a case against Comey, but that the evidence wasn't there to prove intent. "
He said that he did not agree with Trump's request to speed up the release of the results of an investigation into Russia's origins before the 2020 election.
Barr stated that he had told Trump that "we cannot run things according to an electoral calendar." "
"I felt that the notion that the election would depend on whether or not there is a prosecution of a lower-ranking person at that time, you know, on Russia-gate was a misperception," said he. "
Barr stated that he was just looking for answers to some of Trump's allegations about widespread fraud. He said that he had authorized the Justice Department to violate previous policy and give prosecutors permission to "procure substantial allegations of voting irregularities and vote tabulation irregularities before the certification of elections".
Trump wasn't happy with what he discovered.
"I quickly realized that the initial stuff, such as the Dominion machines, and all other conspiracy theories were nonsense." He said. "This idea of an inner-city boilerroom where people are creating false ballots is a fantasy. "
Barr stated that Trump became angry after he publicly announced, Dec. 1, 2020 that he had found no evidence of widespread fraud.
Barr stated that it was the most insane thing he'd ever seen.
Trump said to him, "Well, you remember, I heard about these Dominion Machines in Michigan. Some people believe they should be seized." "
"And I said, "There's no way that the department is going take those machines. '"
He claimed that he told Trump, “The reason you’re where you are” (a reference to Giuliani who was a frequent critic at Barr's).
Holt pointed out that Barr stated in his book that he didn’t believe Trump would ever concede. This was because, in "his cosmos," a loser is the lowest form life. Barr was asked by Holt if he believes Trump won the election.
Barr stated that he believes his attitude is that it was either stolen or stolen. "
Trump responded by saying that Bill Barr was more concerned about being accepted and rewarded by corrupt Washington media and elites than serving the American people. I knew early on that he didn't have the skills to be a great attorney general. "
This is a different statement than what Trump has publicly said. "