Former U.S. Attorney General William Barr — who served in the role twice, once under former President George H.W. Bush and later under former President Donald Trump — slammed Trump in an interview Friday afternoon over his alleged handling of classified government documents.
Barr’s remarks came after the FBI raided the former president’s Florida home at Mar-a-Lago last month and recovered numerous classified documents and U.S. government records that belonged to the National Archives, according to the Department of Justice.
Barr called the former president’s request for a “special master” to review the items that were seized during the raid “a bit of a red herring.”
“The only documents that have been taken, it seems to me, that there’s a legitimate concern about keeping away from the government and insulating the government from would be documents relating to his private lawyer communications, him as an individual and his outside lawyers,” Barr said. “If there’s stuff like that, fine, identify it. There doesn’t appear to be much of it. I’m not sure you need a special master to identify it.”
“But what people are missing is that all the other documents taken, even if they claim to be executive privilege, either belong to the government because they’re government records — even if they’re classified, even if they’re subject to executive privilege, they still belong to the government and go to the Archives,” he continued. “And any other documents that were seized, like news clippings and other things that were in the boxes containing the classified information, those were seizable under the warrant because they show the conditions under which the classified information was being held. So, I think it’s a red herring … at this stage, since they have already gone through the documents, I think it’s a waste of time.”
Fox News host John Roberts asked Barr if there was “any legitimate reason” for Trump to be in possession of the documents that were recovered during the raid, including “top secret/SCI materials.”
“No. I can’t think of a legitimate reason why they should have been — could be taken out of the government, away from the government, if they’re classified,” Barr said. “I, frankly, am skeptical of this claim that ‘I declassified everything,’ because, frankly, I think it’s highly improbable. And, second, if, in fact, he sort of stood over scores of boxes, not really knowing what was in them, and said, ‘I hereby declassify everything in here,’ that would be such an abuse, and that — and show such recklessness, that it’s almost worse than taking the documents.”
Barr said that the fact that things between Trump and the Department of Justice escalated to the point where the FBI had to conduct a raid to retrieve the material from the former president likely indicates that they likely “have pretty good evidence” that a crime was committed, although his guess was just “speculation.”
“I think the driver on this from the beginning was the loads of classified information sitting in Mar-a-Lago. People say this was unprecedented. Well, it’s also unprecedented for a president to take all this classified information and put them in a country club, OK?” Barr continued. “And how long is the government going to try to get that back? They jawboned for a year. They were deceived on the voluntary actions taken. They then went and got a subpoena. They were deceived on that, they feel. And the record, the facts are starting to show that they were being jerked around. And so how long — you know, how long do they wait?”
When asked whether the former was potentially criminally liable or whether his actions constituted “foolishness,” Barr responded, “OK, it is clearly foolish, what happened, and inexplicable.”
“But, beyond that, they may well be able to make a case out here. But then there’s an additional question. Given the fact this is a former president, given the state of the nation, is it — and given the fact that the government has gotten its documents back, does it really make sense to bring a case as a matter of prudential judgment?” Barr added. “And that’s a question that I think will turn on how clear the evidence of obstruction or deceit is. If they clearly have the president moving stuff around and hiding stuff in his desk and telling people to dissemble with the government, they may be — they may be inclined to bring that case.”
Barr said that he hope that the Department of Justice does not bring a criminal case against the former president.
Former U.S. Attorney General William Barr weighs in on the DOJ's criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump's handling of classified government records. pic.twitter.com/V8QwxPcB9b
— Jason Rantz on KTTH Radio (@jasonrantz) September 2, 2022