The decade's most triggering comedy
Former Trump Attorney General William Barr weighed in on a federal grand jury charging former President Donald Trump with multiple felonies this week over his alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
The 77-year-old former president was charged on Tuesday with conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against rights.
During an interview Wednesday night on CNN, Barr highlighted some potential problems with the case and the challenges it presents for the former president.
Barr said it was a “legitimate case” but was complicated and could have “issues of proof.”
“There are some downsides to it. I think there were reasons not to bring it,” he told host Kaitlan Collins. “I have said before I’m a little concerned about the slippery slope of criminalizing legitimate political activity.”
Barr said the Department of Justice would have a much harder time convincing the public that this case is fair and that the law is being applied equally because prosecutors “dropped the ball on the Hunter Biden investigation.”
Barr then addressed the argument from Trump and his allies after Collins pointed out that they are “saying he was just exercising his First Amendment right.”
“No, I really don’t think that’s a valid argument,” Barr said. “As the indictment says, they’re not attacking his First Amendment right. He can say whatever he wants. He can even lie. He can even tell people that the election was stolen, when he knew better. But that does not protect you from entering into a conspiracy. All conspiracies involve speech, and all fraud involves speech.”
Barr also discussed Trump listening to the advice of attorneys like John Eastman.
“I don’t think that dog is going to hunt,” Barr said. “First, as to people who had some knowledge of whether or not there was fraud, everyone was telling him that the election was not stolen by fraud. … He would search for a lawyer who would give him the advice he wanted. But I’m not even sure you would characterize what Eastman said as advice. I mean, it’d be interesting to see, but I interpret of some of what he was saying as essentially, ‘well, you know, it’s unclear here, and you could make this argument. I’m not saying the courts would accept it’ and so forth.”
“And you act on that, it’s your own hazard,” he said. “Also, I don’t think this defense of advice of counsel is going to go forward, because I think the president would have to get on the stand and subject himself to cross-examination in order to raise that. And he’d also have to waive attorney-client privilege.”
Barr said that he was positive that if Trump took the stand, he would do serious damage to himself from a legal perspective because a very skilled cross-examiner would grill him over “all the different versions of events he’s given over the last few years.”
Barr cautioned that people need to wait before making up their minds about the case because “we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg on this indictment.”
When asked if he thought special counsel Jack Smith had “more” evidence that he was not showing, Barr responded, “Oh, yes. I would believe he has a lot more.”
Barr also said he believes that Trump knew that he lost the 2020 presidential election because of the public comments from some of his top outside political advisers at the time. They said “he was going to claim it was stolen if he was falling behind on election night, and that that was the plan of action,” Barr said, adding, “That’s my personal opinion.”