Former Attorney General William Barr said on Wednesday he believed the Justice Department was ‘very close’ to having the evidence to charge Donald Trump – but hopes the agency will refuse to charge the ex-president .
Barr, who served under Trump, again criticized a judge’s order allowing a so-called special master to review the thousands of documents the FBI seized last month during a raid on Trump’s home in Florida, Mar-a-Lago.
Barr said two major issues in the case involving these materials — many of which bore classification marks — are whether the DOJ can argue for Trump’s indictment, and whether it should.
“Will the government be able to come up with a technical case, will they have evidence by which – that they could charge someone, including him?” Barr said in an interview with Fox News, his third appearance on the network in five days.
“That’s the first question, and I think they’re getting closer to that point, frankly,” said Barr, who led the Justice Department from early 2019 until the final months of the Trump administration.
“But I think at the end of the day there is another question, [which] are you indicting a former president? What will it do to the country, what kind of precedent will it set, will people really understand that it’s not, you know, not returning a library book, that it was seriously,” Barr said.
“And so you have to worry about those things, and I hope those kinds of factors will influence the administration not to indict him, because I don’t want to see him indicted as a former president,” Barr said. .
“But I also think they’ll be under a lot of pressure to charge him, because – one question is, look, if somebody else would have been charged, why not charge them?” he added.
Barr also said he hoped the DOJ would appeal the decision of federal judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee. Cannon authorized the appointment of a special master to examine seized materials for personal effects and records that are protected by executive privilege.
The ruling, requested by Trump’s lawyers, temporarily bars the DOJ from reviewing or using documents it took from Mar-a-Lago during the Aug. 8 raid.
“The problem I have with the special master is what she did on what are called executive privilege documents. And she didn’t address the only issue that’s in dispute, which is, the former president have standing to say that investigators could not even see the classified documents he wrongfully had at Mar-a-Lago,” he said.
“She dodges it, and then she says she’s bringing in a special master to look into whether or not things are within executive privilege. That’s not the point,” Barr said. “I hope there will be a call.”
A day earlier on Fox, Barr called Cannon’s decision “deeply flawed in several respects.” But he said it didn’t change “the fundamental dynamic of the case”, which is that “documents have been seized, classified information has been seized and not being dealt with appropriately, and they are reviewing and there is evidence suggesting they were deceived.”
In another Fox interview on Friday, Barr said he doubted Trump’s claims that the documents taken from Mar-a-Lago had been declassified, calling them “highly unlikely.”
But if Trump indeed “stood in front of dozens of boxes, not really knowing what was in them, and said, ‘I’m declassifying everything here,’ that would be such an abuse and it shows such recklessness that it’s almost worse. than to take the documents,” Barr said.
After that appearance, Trump slammed Barr in two social media posts, calling him a “weak, pathetic RINO” who “started out great as an AG, but faded quickly.”
Trump’s posts attacked Barr for his handling of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, saying the DOJ should have released the contents of a laptop containing damaging information about President Joe Biden’s son Hunter ahead of the 2020 election.
Trump also wrote that Barr “never fought as he should have for electoral integrity,” an apparent reference to Barr’s refusal to support Trump’s false claims that his 2020 loss to Biden was rigged. by widespread fraud.
Barr said during his Tuesday appearance on Fox that for Trump, a RINO is “anyone who disagrees with him that the election was stolen.”