William Barr, the former Attorney General, who served under President Donald J. Trump, said on Wednesday that he believes the Justice Department is “getting very close” to having enough evidence to indict former Trump from the evidence they gathered at the highly political raid on Trump’s Florida family home in August.
Showing a very weird interest in the issue, Barr said on Fox News that government investigators need to consider if they will be able to make a “technical” case against Trump for his handling of sensitive documents, which comes at the same time a special master has been issued to evaluate the nature of those same documents, thereby halting any further DOJ ingestion.
“I think they’re getting very close to that point, frankly,” Barr, an apparent defender of the administrative state, told Fox audiences
Barr said the other question to consider is whether to indict a former president, what it would do to the country, and what precedent it would set as if anything the government is doing to deny Trump his authority is normal.
“Will the people really understand that this is not failing to return a library book, that this is serious? And so you have to worry about those things,” Barr said, adding that he hopes those factors will lead the Justice Department (DOJ) to not indict Trump but added the department will be under pressure to do so.
According to The Hill, a federal judge approved Trump’s request to appoint a special master to review the documents seized from his Florida estate last month. The special master will be tasked with determining if any documents taken are protected by attorney-client or executive privilege.
Barr said documents protected by attorney-client privilege should be returned to Trump. He noted the FBI had a right to take those documents initially as they would not have looked through them page-by-page during the search.
He said “there is no scenario” under the law in which the government documents, some of which are classified, should be returned to Trump.
“If it deals with government stuff, it goes back to the government,” he said.
Barr said investigators are also allowed to take and keep personal items of Trump’s if it is evidence of the way the government documents were stored.
“If you find very sensitive documents in Trump’s desk along with his passports, that ties Trump to those documents,” he said.
On Tuesday, Barr said a federal judge’s order to appoint a special master to review the documents was “deeply flawed.”
“The opinion was wrong, and I think the government should appeal it,” Barr said on Fox News. “It’s deeply flawed in a number of ways. I don’t think the appointment of a special master is going to hold up, but even if it does, I don’t see it fundamentally changing the trajectory” of the case.
Leftist CNN celebrated what they viewed as an attack on Trump by Barr in their report on the matter:
“Ex-Attorney General William Barr’s scathing critique of a major court victory for Donald Trump in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents drama is escalating the scrutiny of the judge who put the brakes on the investigation.
Barr was once seen as a facilitator of the then-President’s penchant for tearing at the limits of presidential power. But since Trump’s refusal to accept his defeat to President Joe Biden in 2020, Barr has emerged as one of his most acerbic and significant critics. He, for instance, infuriated Trump by publicly declaring there was no significant electoral fraud. And his video testimony has emerged as one of the key weapons in the televised hearings run by the House select committee investigating the US Capitol insurrection.
On Tuesday, Barr took aim at a decision by Trump-appointed Judge Aileen Cannon to grant Trump’s request for a “special master” to vet for executive and legal privilege issues the material taken from his home in last month’s FBI search.
“It was the second time in just a few days that the former attorney general had taken to the network favored by conservatives to hammer Trump on the controversy. And his statements are adding to the swirl of outside interest in the next critical stages of this high-stakes legal process — the search for a third-party official to serve as a “special master” and the Justice Department’s decision on whether to appeal Cannon’s ruling, which would come at the risk of further delays for the probe.
Barr’s outspokenness will have three main consequences. Such comments by a longtime political and legal conservative will add credibility to growing questions not just about Cannon’s legal reasoning but also whether Monday’s ruling, which delivered several big wins to Trump, was motivated by loyalty to the president who appointed her.
Second, his comments will renew intrigue over his personal transformation — from the attorney general who shielded Trump from the full blast of the Mueller report into his 2016 campaign’s links with Russia into one of the ex-President’s most fervent critics. Whether Barr is being driven by an effort to rehabilitate his reputation as a legal straight shooter, a desire to defend the Justice Department against Trump’s attacks or, is simply right on the facts, is open for debate.
Third, Barr’s latest criticism of his former boss — including that he was wrong to have classified information at Mar-a-Lago — will likely earn him a fresh broadside from the ex-President and his acolytes. Not that Barr cares, since he chuckled when he told Fox that Trump’s definition of a RINO (Republican in name only) is anyone who doesn’t believe the election was stolen.