Barr had profanity-laden split with Trump over fraud: Atlantic

Laura Davison

Former Attorney General Bill Barr told then-President Donald Trump that there was no evidence of election fraud, an assertion that was met with profanity from the president, according to a report in the Atlantic.

Barr met with Trump in early December, weeks after Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had urged him to say publicly that Trump’s claims of fraudulent ballots and illegal vote counting weren’t based in fact, according to an interview by Barr with the publication.

“My attitude was: It was put-up or shut-up time,” Barr told the Atlantic. “If there was evidence of fraud, I had no motive to suppress it. But my suspicion all the way along was that there was nothing there.“

In this Sept. 1, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr arrive at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., after a trip to Kenosha, Wis.

When Barr told him that there was no evidence for election fraud, Trump responded with profanity and told the attorney general that he must “hate Trump.”

The meeting immediately followed an Associated Press article where Barr for the first time told a reporter that the Justice Department hadn’t found fraud that could have overturned the election. Trump went into the meeting with the “the eyes and mannerism of a madman,” the Atlantic said, citing a person present in the room.

The interview is Barr’s first public account about his final weeks as attorney general. His public renouncement of Trump’s claims was one of the few times he broke publicly with the president. The Justice Department ended up conducting no formal investigations of voter fraud.

Part of the allegations of fraud in the election centered on Detroit and the TCF Center, where dubious claims of wrongdoing surfaced during the city's absentee ballot counting.

As part of Barr’s informal review of voter fraud, he asked the U.S. Attorney in Michigan about Trump’s claim that mysterious “ballot dumps” in Detroit had secured Biden’s victory in the state, according to the Atlantic article.

Trump’s allies had pointed to videos showing boxes filled with ballots arriving at the TCF Center to be counted after the 8 p.m. deadline for votes to be cast. But Barr quickly found that there was a logical explanation, the Atlantic piece said. It had to do with how the 662 precincts in Wayne County, home to Detroit, tabulate their votes. “In every other county, they count the ballots at the precinct, but in Wayne County, they bring them into one central counting place. So the boxes are coming in all night. The fact that boxes are coming in — well, that’s what they do.”

Furthermore, Trump performed better against Biden in Detroit than he had against Hillary Clinton in 2016. Biden received 1,000 fewer votes in Detroit than Clinton had, and Trump received 5,000 more votes than he had four years earlier. Trump didn’t lose Michigan because of “illegal” ballots cast in Detroit. He lost Michigan because Biden beat him badly in the suburbs.”

Barr told the former president that he was unlikely to win his legal battle to overturn the election results in multiple states. He said he told Trump that he had a “clown show” legal team that “no self-respecting lawyer is going anywhere near.”

Barr said in the interview that Trump agreed that his legal team might be incompetent. A few weeks later, Barr told Trump he was resigning with a letter that included much praise for the president.