Former U.S. Attorney general William Barr claimed that President Donald Trump was furious when Barr said there was no evidence to suggest the 2020 election had been fraudulent.
"I told him all this stuff was bulls ---... concerning election fraud. It was wrong to shovel it out the same way his team was," Barr stated in an interview with Lester Holt, NBC News. The interview will air on Sunday night. The first highlights of the interview were broadcast on Thursday by MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports.
This was Barr's first televised interview since he retired in December 2020 as attorney general. Barr has published a book about his time in Trump's administration. This has been criticized by some who believe he kept silent to make book sales.
Tonight's Holt interview will be broadcast on NBC Nightly News at 6:30 p.m. ET, tomorrow on TODAY and Sunday on ET. The primetime special airing on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.
Barr denied that he had abused his position of attorney general. He acted as Trump's personal counsel, targeting Trump's political enemies and cutting deals for allies such as Roger Stone and Michael Flynn.
"The narrative was that I was a toady for Trump and that I would do Trump’s bidding. In a Thursday night clip on NBC's Nightly news, Barr said that the media "constantly went out with this story." Holt asked Barr if he thought he was a toady. Barr replied, "Well, no. Because I tried to take all the issues that came to my attention and decide what I believed to be right."
Barr admitted that Trump had contributed to his image as the president’s lame. This included calling his name up during the 2019 conversation with Volodymyr Zelenskyy, which led to Trump's first impoundment. In the call Trump later described as "perfect", the president said to Zelenskyy that Barr would reach out to him and his "people" about two investigations. One was related to an email server linked to Trump's former political rival Hillary Clinton and the other to Joe Biden, his son Hunter.
Holt was told by Barr that he wasn't aware of the scheme, and that he was "livid" to learn about Trump's comments. "This whole scheme of trying to get Ukraine to investigate Biden -- it was a hair-brained plan. Barr stated that it was absurd.
Trump said that he didn't have a clear idea of the Department of Justice's role and, to a certain extent, of the President's.
Barr cited his public outrage against Trump's election fraud claims to be an example of him standing up for the president. He claimed that Trump was so angry at the situation, he believed it would be his final day on the job.
Barr claimed Trump summoned Barr to a meeting at the White House on December 1, after Barr's interview with the Associated Press in which he stated that there was no evidence to support widespread voter fraud in 2020, despite Trump's assertions to the contrary.
Barr said to the AP that he has not yet seen fraud on a scale that could've effected a different outcome in this election.
Barr claimed that Trump called him in to a meeting in his private dining area that day and asked him questions about his comments.
Barr claimed that he had told Trump that the Department of Justice had examined the matter and found no evidence supporting the various conspiracy theories that Trump and his legal team were pushing.
He was asking me about theories and I knew the answers. Barr recalled that I was able tell him, "This was wrong because..."
Trump listened but was clearly angry.
Barr stated that he had told Trump, "I get your pain. And I'm happy to submit my resignation."
Barr claimed that Trump then slapped him on the desk and said, “Accepted." Barr said, "Accepted." "And then -- boom. He grabbed it again. 'Accepted. Go home. Do not return to work. Go home. You're done.'"
Trump wrote to NBC to respond to Barr's interview. He claimed he was the one that asked Barr to resign on that day, and called Barr's former attorney general's account a fabrication.
Barr claimed that Trump had White House lawyers stop Barr before he left the premises, to inform him he wasn’t fired. But the president continued to criticize Barr publicly.
He hasn't done any thing. Trump claimed that he hasn't checked" for voter fraud at an event held at the White House Dec. This is criminal stuff. This is criminal, very bad stuff.
Barr submitted his formal resignation Dec. 14th.
Barr wrote to Trump, "I am proud that I have played a part in the many successes & unprecedented achievements you have delivered" in his resignation letter.
Trump tweeted his praises for Barr. Trump tweeted, "Our relationship was a very good one. He has done an exceptional job!" Trump wrote.
Holt challenged Barr on his record as Attorney-General in a broad-ranging interview. The interview will air on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET in a primetime special. ET on NBC.