Former Attorney General Bill Barr had a well-earned reputation as one of the most loyal members of former President Donald Trump’s cabinet. But an upcoming book by ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl shows a blow-by-blow account of how Barr earned Trump’s wrath for not supporting his stream of lies about his election loss.
Barr had taken several actions during his tenure as AG that many critics felt went beyond the pale and compromised the Justice Dept. in service of Trump’s whims. But in the weeks after Trump’s loss to Joe Biden in the November presidential election, Barr decided he had had enough.
Writing for The Atlantic, Karl describes how Barr’s interview with the Associated Press last December marked the breaking point in his relationship with the then-president. That interview, where the AG declared he saw no evidence of widespread election fraud, is where Barr drew a line in the sand over Trump’s unfounded allegations.
Karl writes that Barr had already concluded that it was highly unlikely that evidence existed that would tip the scales in the election. And he includes this direct quote from Barr.
Karl cites several sources who detailed a heated meeting in the White House where Trump confronted Barr after the AP interview. Read this excerpt from The Atlantic:
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.”
Barr knew Trump was furious with him, and says then-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows also gave off the impression he wasn’t happy either. He told Karl that Trump was livid and was ranting about election fraud.
then this startling exchange, also detailed in The Atlantic, took place.
“You know, you only have five weeks, Mr. President, after an election to make legal challenges,” Barr said. “This would have taken a crackerjack team with a really coherent and disciplined strategy. Instead, you have a clown show. No self-respecting lawyer is going anywhere near it. It’s just a joke. That’s why you are where you are." Interestingly, Trump didn’t argue when Barr told him that his “clown show” legal team had wasted time. In fact, he said, “You may be right about that.”
That meeting ended with Trump repeating the same lineup of lies about the election, the stolen ballots, rigged machines, etc, he would continue to bring up until the present day. He also complained to Barr that he hadn’t prosecuted Hunter Biden. Barr left thinking he may have just been fired.
He wasn’t, but he would resign just a few weeks later. He did so with a letter of resignation praising Trump that Karl writes was meant diffuse tension between the two.
One last excerpt:
The letter praised Trump’s record and played directly into his complaints about how he had been treated by Democrats, saying his efforts “had been met by a partisan onslaught against you in which no tactic, no matter how abusive and deceitful, was out of bounds.” Trump read the letter while Barr was sitting across from him. “This is pretty good,” he said.
Barr going on the record for this book, knowing it will put him in the crosshairs of Trump and the MAGA base, is seen by many as an attempt to rehabilitate his image after spending years as what critics consider his enabler.
No word yet what the former president thinks about his attorney general’s forceful repudiation of his election lies.