WASHINGTON — Former Attorney General William Barr told then-President Donald Trump that there was no evidence of election fraud, an assertion that was met with profanity from the president, according to a report in The Atlantic.
Barr met with Trump in early December, weeks after Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had urged him to say publicly that Trump’s claims of fraudulent ballots and illegal vote counting weren’t based in fact, according to an interview with Barr.
“My attitude was: It was put-up or shut-up time,” Barr told The Atlantic. “If there was evidence of fraud, I had no motive to suppress it. But my suspicion all the way along was that there was nothing there.“
When Barr told him that there was no evidence of election fraud, Trump responded with profanity and told the attorney general that he must “hate Trump.”
The meeting immediately followed an Associated Press article where Barr for the first time told a reporter that the Justice Department hadn’t found fraud that could have overturned the election. Trump went into the meeting with the “the eyes and mannerism of a madman,” The Atlantic said, citing a person present in the room.
The interview is Barr’s first public account about his final weeks as Attorney General. His public renouncement of Trump’s claims was one of the few times he broke publicly with the president. The Justice Department ended up conducting no formal investigations of voter fraud.
Barr told the former president that he was unlikely to win his legal battle to overturn the election results in multiple states. He said he told Trump that he had a “clown show” legal team that “no self-respecting lawyer is going anywhere near.”
Barr said in the interview that Trump agreed that his legal team might be incompetent. A few weeks later, Barr told Trump he was resigning with a letter that included much praise for the president.
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