Barr says he stands by his pre-election comments raising unsubstantiated concerns about voter fraud
“I stand by all of that,” Barr told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead.” “My view is that in such a tightly divided country with so much at stake, we need to maintain strong safeguards against fraud and protect the integrity of the election, and I think when they’re diluted and reduced – what they were – then people won’t have faith in the election whether there’s fraud or not.”
Barr made a number of unsubstantiated claims in the run-up to the election, which spurred Trump’s fear campaign over voter fraud before his defeat.
The former attorney general said Friday he takes no responsibility for people who believe there is widespread fraud in the election.
After the election, Barr privately pushed back against Trump‘s claims of a stolen election, according to an account in Barr’s new memoir, “One Damn Thing After Another.” And in his interview with Tapper on Friday, Barr noted that twice after the election he publicly chastised Trump’s false allegations of mass voter fraud.
Supports use of controversial charge in DOJ’s Jan. 6 investigation
“I just know what I’m seeing, like everyone else, but it struck me that there was this hardcore band out there that kind of came dressed for battle…and they were definitely looking for a fight” , Barr said.
“If these people – anyone, those or anyone else – had a plan to use violence to stop the count, it would be a seditious plot,” he continued.
Would campaign for the main GOP opponents of Trump
In his memoir, Barr urged the Republican Party to back anyone other than Trump in the 2024 presidential primary – although Barr said he would likely back Trump over a Democrat in a presidential election. general.
On Friday, Barr said he would get involved in the primary fight to support Republican candidates who have challenged the former president, who is expected to be the Republican frontrunner if he enters the 2024 race.
“I think Republicans can win a decisive majority. But I don’t think we can do that with Trump. He’s too divisive a candidate,” Barr said, though he didn’t name any candidates. specific to the GOP he envisions.
“There’s a whole bunch of them, I think, and I’m going to let them run around the track for a while, but I would definitely support… any of those people,” he said.
In response, Trump spokeswoman Liz Harrington told CNN that “it’s no surprise that Bill Barr is trying to work against the will of the people, which is what he did in 2020.” .
Barr’s memoir describes several episodes throughout his tenure at the top of Trump’s Justice Department in which Barr says the former president displayed erratic and manic behavior.
Still, the former attorney general said he doesn’t consider any of Trump’s pre-election conduct a disqualification for the president’s job.
“I supported his politics. I was very aware of his personal flaws, especially his pettiness and his temper when he doesn’t get what he wants,” Barr said. “But, until the election, I thought if you had strong Cabinet Secretaries who are ready to fight, you could keep things on track, and I personally felt we had done a good job. work in that regard. But after the election . . . it just went off the rails.”
This story has been updated with additional details from the interview.