Bill Barr calls Donald Trump ‘responsible’ for Jan. 6 Capitol riot

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Bill Barr calls Donald Trump 'responsible’ for Jan. 6 Capitol riot

Former Attorney General Bill Barr has said he believes former President Donald Trump “was responsible” for last year’s Capitol riot, arguing in a new special that “the whole idea was to intimidate Congress.” 

“I do think he was responsible in the broad sense of that word, in that it appears that part of the plan was to send that group up to the Hill,” Barr told NBC News’s Lester Holt in an exclusive interview. “I think the whole idea was to intimidate Congress, and I think that that was wrong.” 

However, Barr added that he had not “seen anything to say he [Trump] was legally responsible for it in terms of incitement.” 

The interview with Holt was recorded as part of a one-hour NBC News special that will air Sunday night ahead of the release of Barr’s new book, “One Damn Thing After Another” on Tuesday.

During the interview, Barr recounted a conversation with Trump on Dec. 1, 2020, in which he told the then-president his claims that the election results were fraudulent were “bulls— … and it was wrong to be shoveling it out the way his team was.”

Former Attorney General William Barr
Former Attorney General Bill Barr said the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol was “to intimidate Congress.”
NBC News / TODAY

“I said, ‘the reason you are where you are is because you wheeled out a clown show of lawyers,’” Barr recalled.

When Holt asked if Barr was referring to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who became the face of Trump’s ill-fated election challenge, Barr answered: “Among others.”

Barr further revealed that he had offered to resign at one point during the heated encounter, to which Trump responded by slamming his hand on his desk and saying, “Accepted. Accepted.”

“And then, boom, he slapped it again [and said], ‘Accepted. Go home. Don’t go back to your office, go home. You’re done.’”

Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021.
Donald Trump speaks during a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 presidential election results on Jan. 6, 2021.
REUTERS/Jim Bourg/File Photo

Barr ultimately resigned later that month, officially departing the administration two days before Christmas.

In another portion of the interview, Barr said he told Trump that the Justice Department had looked into the claims of voters fraud and was unable to find any evidence to support the then-president’s claims.

“He was asking about different theories, and I had the answers. I was able to tell him, ‘This was wrong because of this,’” Barr recounted.

Pro-Trump protesters gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. A pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, breaking windows and clashing with police officers.
A pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, breaking windows and clashing with police officers on Jan. 6, 2021.
Jon Cherry/Getty Images

As Trump listened, Barr said, he could tell “he was obviously getting very angry about this.”

According to NBC News, Trump responded to Barr in a three-page letter to the network in which the 45th president described his onetime top law enforcement officer as “a coward,” a “big disappointment,” and “lazy.”

While Trump has not publicly criticized Barr for his recent comments, he has taken multiple swings at the House Select Committee investigating the Capitol riot — which has dubbed “the Unselect Committee.” 

​​”The Unselect Committee’s sole goal is to try to prevent President Trump, who is leading by large margins in every poll, from running again for president, if I so choose. By so doing they are destroying democracy as we know it​,” he said in a statement put out by his Save America PAC on Thursday.

“Their lies and Marxist tactics against political opponents will not stop the truth, or the biggest political movement, Make America Great Again/America First, in the history of our Country,” he continued.

Police with guns drawn watch as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021
Police with guns drawn watch as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

“And now we have a war waging in Ukraine that would have never happened, record-setting inflation, an embarrassingly poorly executed withdrawal from Afghanistan, and an economy that is teetering, at best. All because of a corrupt Election result​,” Trump added.

This week, the committee claimed it has evidence showing that Trump and his lawyers engaged in criminal conspiracy to defraud the US by spreading false information about the election as they pushed state officials to overturn the results declaring Joe Biden the winner. 

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