UPDATE, 8:09 AM PT: NBC News released more excerpts from their interview with former Attorney General William Barr, who told Lester Holt that he thinks Donald Trump was responsible “in the broad sense of that word” for the January 6th attack on the Capitol.
Barr said that “it appears that part of the plan was to send this group up to the Hill. I think the whole idea was to intimidate Congress. And I think that was wrong.”
But he said that he had not seen “anything to say he was legally responsible for it in terms of incitement.”
Trump was impeached for the second time for inciting the insurrection, but was acquitted in the Senate.
PREVIOUSLY: As former Attorney General William Barr is poised to become the latest Trump administration insider with a tell-all book, NBC News has landed an exclusive interview with plans for a one-hour special on Sunday.
Barr told Lester Holt that, in a December, 2020 meeting, he said to Trump that his claims of election fraud were “bulls—.”
Barr said that he told Trump that “it was wrong to be shoveling it out the way his team was. And he started asking me about different theories. And I had the answers. I was able to tell him, ‘This is wrong because of this.’”
Details of Barr’s book, One Damn Thing After Another: Memoirs of An Attorney General, were revealed in stories last week from outlets that obtained copies. The NBC interview is timed maximize publicity around the book, but this is not Barr’s first interview after he left the administration. He shared details with ABC News’ Jonathan Karl for his book, Betrayal, published last year, but he did not do a TV sit down.
The NBC News special will air on Sunday at 9 PM ET, with excerpts on NBC Nightly News on Thursday.
Barr said that Trump was angered by what he was telling him, so he offered his resignation. Trump “slapped the desk” and said, “‘Accepted. Accepted.’ Go home. Don’t go back to your office. Go home. You’re done.” Barr eventually resigned, in a letter that was noteworthy for its praise of Trump.
Barr’s comments come as the House’s January 6th Committee, which is investigating the attack on the Capitol, said in a court filing that it “has a good-faith basis for concluding that the President and members of his Campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States,” as he pushed claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him and pressed Vice President Mike Pence to reject electors who would affirm Joe Biden’s election win.
Responding to Barr, Trump told NBC News that Barr was “lazy” and a “coward.” The former president also responded to the January 6th Committee, saying that the “actual conspiracy to defraud the United States was the Democrats rigging the election.” As Barr has said about the Justice Department’s post-2020 investigation, he found no evidence indicating such a massive fraud, while Trump and his allies lost their challenges in court more than 60 times.
Barr also slammed Trump for trying to get Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate then-candidate Joe Biden. Trump’s 2019 phone call with Zelensky became the focal point of impeachment proceedings. Barr said that Trump’s effort was a “hair-brained scheme” and “ridiculous.”
Barr’s book is likely to be viewed by critics as an effort to rehabilitate his image. Up until the 2020 election, Barr was the source of much punditry and commentary that he was doing Trump’s bidding, particularly with the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference. In the interview with Holt, Barr said that it was “not true” that his summary of Mueller’s investigation didn’t square with Mueller’s conclusions. Barr said that “what it was was a tantrum by the people who were hoping that Mueller would be able to bring down Trump.”