Source: Hot Air
Yesterday, Bari Weiss published a lengthy interview with Bill Barr about his time working in the Trump administration. One of the most dramatic moments he described happened after the election. Trump was claiming there was evidence of election fraud which the DOJ need to investigate but after looking at it, Barr concluded there was nothing that was likely to change the outcome of the election. He arranged a meeting with an AP reporter and told the reporter his conclusions. As Barr tells it, he expected to be fired because he had a pre-existing meeting at the White House later that day.
BW: At noon on December 1, 2020, you had lunch with a reporter from the Associated Press. What happened at that lunch? What did you tell him?
AG BARR: The president was out there continuing to say that there was major fraud and claiming that the Department of Justice was asleep at the switch and wasn’t doing anything about it. By that time, I decided I really had to say something publicly. I thought it was irresponsible to keep on talking about the election being stolen unless we had some evidence of it. And there was none at that point.
I talked to the AP reporter and I told him that to date we haven’t seen evidence of fraud on a scale that would have affected the outcome of the election. I knew when I said that that I would probably be fired for it because it contradicted the president publicly. But I felt that I had to do it. I had an appointment with the chief of staff at the White House that afternoon. I told my secretary that she might have to pack up for me because I would probably be fired. I went over and the president asked me to come in.
Barr has told this story before. Last summer, the Atlantic published a story by Jonathan Karl in which Barr described in some detail what happened at that Dec. 2020 meeting with the president:
Trump brought up Barr’s AP interview.
“Did you say that?”
“Yes,” Barr responded.
“How the fuck could you do this to me? Why did you say it?”
“Because it’s true.”
The president, livid, responded by referring to himself in the third person: “You must hate Trump. You must hate Trump.”
After going through his litany of claims—stolen ballots, fake ballots, dead people voting, rigged voting machines—Trump switched to other grievances, shouting at Barr for failing to prosecute Biden’s son Hunter. “If that had been one of my kids, they would have been all over him!” he said. By the end of the meeting, Trump was doing almost all of the talking. Why hadn’t Barr released John Durham’s report on the origins of the Russia investigation before the election? Why hadn’t he prosecuted former FBI Director James Comey? Trump was banging on the table. He said that Barr had been worthless.
As Barr left, he was unsure whether he still had a job. Had Trump just fired him? And if not, shouldn’t he quit? Why remain attorney general after what the president had just said to him? His status had been left up in the air.
That account got a lot of attention last summer when it was published so it’s not as if this is a fresh topic. Still, Barr’s description in the interview with Bari Weiss had some additional details I hadn’t heard before, including his offer to resign. He says Trump verbally accepted his resignation and then had second thoughts and sent someone out to pull him back.
AG BARR: He was in a little dining room that adjoins the Oval Office. He was as furious as I’d ever seen him. He confronted me and said, “Did you say this to the AP?” And I said, “I did. Because it was the truth.” I went over some of the allegations. He said there was plenty of evidence of fraud. I explained in some detail why the allegations didn’t fly. I told him that there were only five or six weeks to challenge a presidential election because the Constitution requires the Electoral College to meet at a certain date and he didn’t have much time. He’d already wasted five of your six weeks with this crazy stuff about the Dominion machines. He’d wheeled out this clown show of lawyers that no reputable lawyer is willing to work with.
BW: Sidney Powell and people like that.
AG BARR: The dream team.
I said, “Look, I know you’re unhappy with me. I’m going to tender my resignation.” And he slammed the table. Everyone jumped. And he said, “Accepted.” So I said OK and left. I was getting into my car right outside the White House and all of a sudden, people started pounding on the windows. It was late at night and raining, so it was sort of this eerie thing. The president sent Cipollone, another White House lawyer, out there, to retrieve me and tell me “Nevermind, he’s not going to fire you, and would you come back in?” And I said, “I don’t think there’s any use to going back in tonight. I’m going to go home. But we can talk about it in the morning.”
I don’t think the differences are very significant but the extra detail about the actual offer to resign struck me as new. Maybe it has been out there and I just missed it. In any case, Barr only stuck around for two more weeks. He finally resigned on December 14th.
There’s a lot more to the interview including Barr’s take on Jan. 6 and also his feelings about the FBI raid of Mar-a-Lago (he defends the FBI). But the story ends with a “lightning round” of brief questions that included some criticism of Trump and some support for Gov. DeSantis.
BW What’s the most surprising thing about Donald Trump?
AG BARR: One would think that an executive would have a better idea of how to operate with people and manage people. And he’s a poor manager of people.
BW: What’s the most awkward situation you ever witnessed in the White House?
AG BARR: It was on June 1 when the president was bellowing at a number of his cabinet secretaries, especially the military guys—the secretary and chairman of the joint chiefs. He was calling all of us “fucking losers” at the top of his lungs…
BW: Who’s going to be president in 2024?
AG BARR: If I had to bet, I would probably bet DeSantis.
Again, I’m barely scratching the surface of this interview. The whole thing is worth reading.