Bill Barr says election fraud claims 'precipitated' Capitol riot

Bill Barr says election fraud claims 'precipitated' Capitol riot

January 19, 2021

Bill Barr says Trump’s election fraud claims ‘precipitated’ Capitol riot in his first TV interview since resigning as Attorney General

  • Barr has given an interview to the UK’s ITV News, the first since he left office
  • Trump’s claims Presidency was ‘stolen’ from him ‘precipitated’ DC riots, he said 
  • He called violence at the US Capitol on January 6 by rioters ‘despicable’
  • The former attorney general said he was ‘not surprised’ to see the ‘violence’ 
  • Barr left office in December after serving under Trump administration 
  • Trump and Barr’s fallout began when Barr pushed back on the president’s desire to send troop to cities like Portland to break up Black Lives Matter protests
  • Barr described their conversations like the movie ‘Groundhog Day,’ as the same argument happened over and over again

Former Attorney General Bill Barr has said that Donald Trump’s allegations of election fraud and his claims that the Presidency was ‘stolen’ from him ‘precipitated’ the DC riots, in his first TV interview since resigning last year.

Barr was asked about Trump and his campaign’s claims about the legitimacy of the election, and appeared to take a swipe at his former boss.   

ITV News Global Security Editor Rohit Kachroo asked Barr: ‘Perhaps the debate about the integrity of the election was the final straw?’

Barr replied: ‘I think that was the thing that precipitated the riots on the Hill’

He added: ‘I think it’s always important to remember most people are exercising their First Amendment rights but there is a substantial group obviously that went far beyond that and broke into the Capitol and tried to interfere with the proceedings and that’s unacceptable.’ 

But when asked whether Trump incited the rioters, Barr stopped short, choosing not to name the president explicitly, Kachroo said in the news report. 

Instead, he said, he would leave it to investigators to determine whether Trump and his allies incited the riot, adding that he wasn’t surprised violence occurred.

ITV News Global Security Editor Rohit Kachroo asked Barr: ‘Perhaps the debate about the integrity of the election was the final straw?’ Barr replied: ‘I think that was the thing that precipitated the riots on the Hill’

“That was the thing that precipitated the riots on the Hill”

Former attorney general Bill Barr tells @RohitKachrooITV that questioning the legitimacy of the US presidential election ‘precipitated’ the Jan 6 US Capitol riots

The assault on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump left five people dead 

Pictured: Supporters of President Donald Trump attend ‘Save America’ rally where Trump spoke as election results are to be certified in Washington DC on January 6, 2021

On Tuesday, Barr gave his first TV interview since resigning as U.S. attorney general on December 23, after falling out with President Trump over claims that the presidential election was ‘stolen’. 

In the interview with the UK’s ITV News, Barr gave his thoughts on the January 6 Capitol riots.

Barr on whether questions over the election’s integrity led to the riots: 

I think that that was the thing that precipitated the riots on The Hill. Now, I think it’s always important to remember that most people are exercising their first amendment rights. But there’s a substantial group, obviously, that went far beyond that and broke into the capital and tried to interfere with the proceedings, and that’s unacceptable. 

Barr on how the rioters should have been dealt with:

I’m sad to see, but not surprised in a way to see, the kind of violence we saw on Capitol Hill. I consider it despicable, and – I was not attorney general, I had already left office when that occurred – but I felt that they should move very quickly to disperse that crowd, regardless of which side of the political spectrum is involved. We just cannot tolerate violence, interfering with the processes of government. 

Barr on whether Trump incited the riots on January 6:

I’ll leave it to the people who are looking into the genesis of this to say whether incitement was involved. I don’t know if I’d use the word inevitable, but I think that when you start suppressing free speech, when people lose confidence in the media, and also when they lose faith in the integrity of elections, you’re going to have some people resort to violence. 

Barr on the similarity between the MAGA rioters and Islamist extremists:

There is obviously some commonality because many of the people that get involved in this are people who have problems, psychological problems, or problems with their socialisation, shall we say, alienation. So to that extent, the raw material of extremism may be similar.

Barr said: ‘Regardless of which side of the political spectrum is involved, we just cannot tolerate violence interfering with the processes of government’. 

‘I’ll leave it to the people who are looking into the genesis of this to say whether incitement was involved.’

Barr – previously a fiercely loyal supporter of the president – left office in December after serving as attorney general under the Trump administration for more than year.

Speaking during the interview, Barr said he would describe the violence seen by supporters of the president as ‘inevitable’.

He added: ‘I think that when you start suppressing free speech, when people lose confidence in the media, and also when they lose faith in the integrity of elections – you are going to have some people resort to violence.’

Barr, who also served as attorney general under President George W Bush, said that the ’emergence of violence in the political process’ was one of his concerns during his second spell in the office.

‘It was just starting – people attacking, people wearing Trump hats, and things like that. You had the Proud Boys who were on the right, fighting the Antifa who were on the left,’ Barr told ITV News.

‘I said that I was very worried about the emergence of violence and he had to have zero tolerance for it.’

He went on to agree that there were ‘similarities’ between the rioters and Islamist terrorists, ‘because many of the people that get involved in this are people who have problems – psychological problems or problems with their socialisation.

‘So to that extent, the raw material of extremism may be similar.’

However, some groups were just ‘anarchists against any kind of order,’ he said. ‘The Islamist threat is far more programmatic. There’s probably more structure to it than what we have to deal with here,’ he noted. 

Barr told President Donald Trump in December that his widespread voter fraud claims were ‘bulls**t’ and the legal team he was assembling was ‘clownish.’ 

There was not widespread fraud in the election, as has been confirmed by a range of election officials, as well as Barr himself. Nearly all of the legal challenges put forth by Trump and his allies have been dismissed by judges.

Axios reported on the fallout between Trump and Barr, who resigned from his perch at the Justice Department on December 23. 

The relationship began to fray over the summer when Trump wanted to use military force against Black Lives Matter demonstrators in cities like Portland, an inclination Barr pushed back on.

Attorney General Bill Barr told President Donald Trump that his widespread election fraud claims were ‘bulls**t’ and said Trump’s team of lawyers were ‘clownish’

Barr, according to Axios, thought Trump’s ideas were too aggressive and likened their conversations to the movie ‘Groundhog Day,’ as the same arguments happened over and over again. 

Trump would throw tantrums when Barr questioned what he would do with troops in major U.S. cities. 

Barr pointed out that the troops could be stranded in Portland and other cities indefinitely. 

‘No one supports me,’ Trump yelled at one point. ‘No one gives me any f***ing support.’ 

Axios said that Barr acted like a ‘heat shield’ between the president and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Mark Esper. 

Milley and Esper, like Barr, believed deploying troops to Portland was a bad idea.  

After a summer of fighting, Barr tried to avoid Trump through the fall. 

And the attorney general was largely successful because the president was on the campaign trail so much. 

But after the November 3 election, Trump needed Barr to push his election fraud narrative.  

Barr had asked the DOJ to speed up federal investigations of election fraud allegations, but that wasn’t enough for Trump – as the evidence investigators sought didn’t exist.        

On November 29, Trump called Barr’s DOJ ‘missing in action’ on Fox News Channel. 

The messaging infuriated Barr, Axios reported. 

In turn, Barr gave an interview to an Associated Press reporter, Michael Balsamo, where he said publicly there was no widespread election fraud. 

Barr knew the story could go live as he was going into a White House meeting on December 1. 

And Trump did confront him over the AP headline: ‘Disputing Trump, Barrs says no widespread election fraud.’  

‘Why would you say such a thing? You must hate Trump. There’s no other reason for it. You must hate Trump,’ the president responded, speaking in the third person, Axios reported.  

Send in the troops: Donald Trump repeatedly demanded that Bill Barr allow the military to deploy to Portland as the two men’s relationship went into a tailspin

Barr responded that, ‘these things aren’t panning out. The stuff that these people are filling your ear with just isn’t true,’ he said, according to Axios. 

Barr explained that the DOJ had looked into these fraud allegations that Trump’s lawyers like Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell were peddling. 

‘It’s just bulls**t,’ Barr said. 

‘I’m a pretty informed legal observer and I can’t fucking figure out what the theory is here,’ Barr continued. ‘It’s just scattershot. It’s all over the hill and gone.’  

Trump responded with a, ‘maybe.’ 

Barr quit before Christmas because he didn’t want his private disagreements coming into public view, Axios said. 

On December 14, Barr met with Trump and argued that it was best for him to step aside. He did so the following week, on December 23.

January 6 saw a violent mob of MAGA supporters storm the Capitol, breaking through police barricades and smashing windows to enter the building.

Capitol police officers point their guns at a door that was vandalized in the House Chamber during a joint session of Congress

Richard Barnett, a supporter of US President Donald Trump sits inside the office of US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as he protest inside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 6

Barr, Trump and the Federal death penalty

US authorities carried out the 13th and final federal execution of Donald Trump’s presidency Saturday, media reports said, less than a week before the White House is taken over by Democrat Joe Biden, who opposes the death penalty. 

The Trump administration resumed federal executions in July following a 17-year hiatus, carrying them out at an unprecedented rate.

During his time as Attorney General, Barr was instrumental the Trump administration’s efforts to restart federal death penalties for the first time since 2003.

Barr authorised the use of a new lethal injection drug, he was quoted in the execution announcements, and as attorney general he held ultimate authority in capital cases, ProPublica reports. 

Among the 13 people put to death since then was, for the first time in nearly 70 years, a woman – Lisa Montgomery, executed Tuesday despite doubts about her mental health.

At the same time, states postponed all executions to avoid spreading the virus.

‘This is not justice,’ wrote Justice Sonia Sotomayor in a dissenting note to Friday’s decision by the Supreme Court. ‘After waiting almost two decades to resume federal executions, the Government should have proceeded with some measure of restraint to ensure it did so lawfully.’

‘When it did not, this Court should have. It has not. Because the Court continues this pattern today, I dissent.’

President-elect Biden, who will be sworn in on Wednesday, has vowed to work with Congress to try to abolish the death penalty at the federal level.

Democratic lawmakers on Monday introduced a bill to that effect and since their party has regained control of the Senate, it stands a chance of being adopted.

In a statement Saturday the American Civil Liberties Union called on Biden to commute the sentences of all those on federal death row and remove the death penalty from all pending trials.

‘This swift action is the only adequate response to the degrading and unconstitutional execution spree and to ensure that the federal government is never able to do this again,’ it said.

Lawmakers were forced to go into hiding for several hours as Capitol police grappled to take back control while the mob rioted in the Senate and House, invaded Nancy Pelosi’s office and looted items potentially including state secrets. 

One female Trump supporter, US Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt, was shot dead by Capitol Police as she tried to climb through a window. 

Three other Trump supporters died after ‘medical emergencies’ related to the breach and Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick died the following day from injuries sustained in the attack after the thug allegedly hit him over the head with a fire extinguisher. 

Many people have already been arrested and prosecutors across the U.S. have vowed to bring to justice those who stormed the U.S. Capitol, sending lawmakers into hiding as they began their work to affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

The group included white nationalists, neo-Nazis and QAnon conspiracy theorists, coming from states as far-flung as Arizona and Oregon, while photographs from the riot have shown people wearing clothes with a range of antisemitic messages. 

Trump has become the only president to be twice impeached, and the first to be prosecuted as he leaves the White House, an ever-more-extraordinary end to his tenure. 

A precedent set by the Senate in the 1800s established that a trial can proceed even after a federal official leaves office. Trump was first impeached by the House in 2019 over his dealings with Ukraine, but the Senate voted last year to acquit.

Ten Republicans joined all Democrats in the 232-197 impeachment vote on Wednesday, the most bipartisan modern presidential impeachment.

When his second trial does begin, House impeachment managers say they will be making the case that Trump’s incendiary rhetoric hours before the attack on the Capitol was not isolated, but directly intended to interrupt the electoral count as part of his escalating campaign to overturn the November election. 

Meanwhile, it was revealed on Tuesday that QAnon fanatics are said to have discussed posing as National Guard soldiers in an attempt to infiltrate President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.  

An intelligence briefing seen by The Washington Post states: ‘QAnon members have discussed posing as National Guard soldiers, believing that it would be easy for them to infiltrate secure areas.’

The National Guard have been told to be alert to anyone who looks ‘out of place’ as a result. ‘Concerns of lone wolf actors are increasing,’ the report adds.  

Videos and pictures taken of the security measures by unknown individuals in DC have already been shared online and while there are said to be no specific threats maps of the city have also been studied by extremists, according to the paper.

The threats against Biden´s inauguration have been fueled by supporters of President Donald Trump, far-right militants, white supremacists and other radical groups. 

Many believe Trump´s baseless accusations that the election was stolen from him, a claim that has been refuted by many courts, the Justice Department and Republican officials in key battleground states. 

Security concerns have gripped Washington following the deadly January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump rioters. 

The FBI has not commented on the latest report.

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