Trump became ‘detached from reality’ over voter fraud claims, Barr tells Jan. 6 panel

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Former Attorney General William Barr told the congressional plan investigating the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, of an “avalanche” of voter fraud claims that “were completely bogus and silly and usually complete misinformation.”

Former Attorney General Bill Barr told the Jan. 6 House Select Committee that former President Donald Trump became “detached from reality” amid his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results and that allegations of voter fraud were “bogus.”

The remarks made by the nation’s former top prosecutor in a previously recorded video deposition aired on national television Monday morning during the second public hearing conducted by a House select committee that has spent nearly a year behind closed doors investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. Committee members spent much of the morning presenting evidence to show that Trump went against the advice of his team by amping up unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud to his supporters.

Barr said that he spoke with Trump three times after election day and made clear that the claims hyped up by some of the president’s allies were unsubstantiated.

Barr said there was an “avalanche” of voter fraud claims just days after the election, which “were completely bogus and silly and usually complete misinformation.”

Barr said nothing he reviewed gave him “any feeling that there was substance” to the theory that the election was stolen from Trump.

“It was like playing whack-a-mole because something would come out one day and then the next day it would be another issue,” Barr said.

Barr said he spoke with Trump on Nov. 23, 2020, in the Oval Office for the first time after election night and said his conversation “was a little ... awkward because, obviously, he had lost the election and I hadn’t said anything to him.”

During the meeting, which was attended by members of Trump’s team including Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, “the president said there had been fraud and that since the facts were out, the results of the election would be reversed,” Barr said.

Barr told Trump that it was on his campaign lawyers, not the Justice Department, to take sides in the election and that Barr’s team would only investigate fraud allegations that were “specific, credible and could have affected the outcome of the election,” emphasizing to the president that the claims were overwhelmingly not panning out.

Barr said that as he left the Oval Office, he ran into Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and White House Social Media Director Dan Scavino Jr. and asked them how much longer the president would continue pushing the unsubstantiated claims. Meadows told Barr that Trump was “becoming more realistic and knows there’s a limit to how far he can take [the claims],” Barr said, adding that Kushner said, “We’re working on this.”

After over 10 months of working behind closed doors, a House Select Committee began presenting its findings on the Jan....

Later in the month, Trump appeared on Fox News and said the Justice Department was nowhere to be found in uncovering alleged voter fraud. That December, Barr gave an interview to the Associated Press in which he reiterated what he told Trump in private. After the interview was published later that day, Barr went to the White House for a previously scheduled meeting and expected to be fired.

Trump tried controlling his fury during their meeting in the Oval Office, Barr said. After Trump suggested there was fraud in certain jurisdictions, Barr said he responded that there was no indication of that and that the fraud claims were “bullshit.”

“He was indignant about that,” Barr said.

Barr said he told Trump that his team spent weeks on “idiotic claims” that Dominion Voting Systems machines were tampered with, despite “absolutely zero basis for the allegations.”

“I told them that it was crazy stuff and they were wasting their time and it was doing a great grave disservice to the country,” Barr said.

Two weeks later, Barr again met with Trump, who shared a report prepared by a cybersecurity firm and claimed it contained proof the Dominion balloting machines were rigged and that he won a second term. As Trump spoke, Barr thumbed through the report, which he said “looked very amateurish to me,” and contained no supporting information to Trump’s claim. Barr said he felt “somewhat demoralized” by Trump’s belief in the fraud claims and noted that the president was “detached from reality.”

“There was never an indication of interest [from Trump] in what the actual facts were,” Barr said. “My opinion then and my opinion now is that the election was not stolen by fraud. I haven’t seen anything since the election that changes my mind on that.”

The former attorney general said that he “felt that before the election, it was possible to talk sense to the president.”

“While you sometimes had to engage in a wrestling match with him, it was possible to keep things on track,” Barr said. “But I felt after the election he didn’t seem to be listening.”

Barr quit later that day.

“I was not inclined to stay around if he wasn’t listening to advice from me or his other Cabinet secretaries,” Barr said.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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