Bill Barr, who served as Attorney General under former President Donald Trump, was grilled by NBC’s Savannah Guthrie on why he didn’t speak out sooner despite believing that Mr Trump was acting in “dangerous” ways.
Mr Barr appeared on NBC’s Today to promote his memoir about his time in the Trump administration, One Damn Thing After Another.
In it, he states that Mr Trump’s claims about the election were “bulls***,” and criticizes his former boss’s “erratic behaviour”. He also argues that Mr Trump was personally responsible for the Capitol riot on 6 January last year.
Mr Barr told NBC that Mr Trump’s “tantrum” against the claims made in the book was “childish”.
When asked why he’s speaking out now, Mr Barr said he was “pretty content with the administration until the election”.
“But after the election, he went off the rails,” he added. Guthrie asked what he would tell those who believe that his book and his press appearances are part of a “rehab tour” to cleanse his public image of him.
“I don’t really care what people think about me, and I think that was one of the reasons I was persuaded to take the attorney general job,” he said. “Because I wasn’t looking for anything. I don’t have a future career. I’m retired and I felt I could just call them as I see them. And anyone who tries to win the approval of others is going to be compromised very quickly.”
“Did the president lose the election, or was it stolen or rigged by massive fraud?” Guthrie asked, noting that many Republicans still push the lie that the 2020 election was rigged.
“The votes reflected the decision of the people,” Mr Barr said.
“There was no evidence” that the election was stolen, Mr Barr said. He said Mr Trump’s claims about the election are “nonsense”.
“You look at the vote, the actual vote, and there is no mystery as to why he lost,” Mr Barr said. “He lost for the reason he was told for the whole year he was going to lose, which is he alienated Independents and Republican voters in the suburbs. That is why I have lost.”
“I felt Trump had taken a dangerous turn since the election,” Mr Barr writes in the book.
“Why didn’t you speak out more forcefully, right then and there, having told the president it’s BS?” Guthrie asked. “Why didn’t you say more right then and there to the American people about it?”
Mr Barr noted that he had told the press that Mr Trump’s allegations were untrue.
“You said there is no evidence of widespread fraud. You didn’t say ‘I think the president is dangerous’,” Ms Guthrie said.
“As you remember, there was basically an allegation du jour,” Mr Barr said. “It was like playing Whack-A-Mole…”
“Yeah, but it does [your resignation letter] really reflect the spirit of what you knew to be true? It’s dangerous and it’s BS,” Guthrie said. She noted that Mr Barr writes in the book that he was concerned for US national security and the peaceful transfer of power.
“None of this is present in this resignation letter,” she said. “Didn’t the American people deserve to know what you knew?”
Mr Barr said that when he tended his resignation on 14 December 2020, the states had certified their results and nothing could be done to overturn it.
“The idea that something could be done later on January 6 was nonsense,” he said.
“Did you underestimate the length that the president was willing to go to?” Guthrie asked.
“Yes,” Mr Barr said. “I thought it was a farce because there was no substance to it. There was no legal support for it.”
But despite all his criticisms of Mr Trump, Mr Barr said he would still vote for him if he ends up being the Republican nominee in 2024.