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In a bizarre CNN interview on Friday, former Trump-era Attorney General Bill Barr vowed to help “defeat” former President Donald Trump in the 2024 GOP presidential primary but then abruptly turned around and defended some of Trump’s voter fraud allegations and his call with then-Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
It was a confusing interview, to say the least …
Early in the interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Barr was specifically asked a question about something he’d written in his recently released memoir.
“Your book ends with the conclusion that the party and the country would be better suited if a different candidate led the way going forward. You say there’s an impressive array of younger candidates. If Trump runs and others challenge him, which might happen, you never know, would you get involved in the primary fight to defeat him?” the CNN host asked.
Stunningly, Barr replied, “Absolutely!”
“I think the coming presidential election would be a good opportunity for the Republican Party, because, from my standpoint, the progressive left is sort of showing a sort of totalitarian temperament, and I think the Republicans can win a decisive majority. But I don’t think we can do it with Trump. He’s just too divisive a candidate,” the former AG added.
This prompted Tapper to ask Barr whether he’d support a presidential run by Rep. Liz Cheney.
“I don’t think she could get the nomination, so …,” Barr replied, referencing her extremely poor standing within the Republican Party.
Trump-endorsed candidate beats Liz Cheney in Wyoming GOP straw poll; trash-talk begins https://t.co/l4ItRZ7E2t
— American Wire News (@americanwire_) January 24, 2022
A large chunk of the rest of the interview centered on Trump’s claims of voter fraud/irregularities in the 2020 presidential election. Namely, Tapper sought to accuse Barr of helping the former president perpetrate the so-called “big lie.” But unlike previously, this time Barr somewhat defended the president’s views.
Though Barr agrees that Trump lost the 2020 presidential election, he’s always maintained that voter fraud is a serious issue. This contrasts sharply with the attitude of the left, which is that voter fraud is practically non-existent. Tapper, for his part, chose to predictably echo the left’s talking points to a T.
“Do you bear any responsibility for all the people out there that thought that there was going to be all this widespread voter fraud, given the fact that you were very vocally sounding the alarm, based on theories and bad information?” he asked.
“Not at all. And I stand by all of that,” Barr replied.
He continued, “And my view is that, in such a closely divided country, with so much at stake, we have to keep strong protections against fraud and protect the integrity of the election. And I think, when they are diluted and reduced, which they were, then people are not going to have confidence in the election, whether or not fraud occurs.”
Watch the full back-and-forth exchange below:
By diluting, the former AG had meant “diluting the safeguards” by, as examples, eliminating voter ID, allowing for ballot harvesting, and permitting no-excuse mail-in voting.
A “bipartisan commission that looked at [mail-in voting], I think it was in 2006, that that kind of process is fraught with the risk of fraud. And I think it is. And the other thing I was talking about is ballot harvesting, which I think is a terrible practice,” Barr explained.
Republicans, including Trump, have staunchly maintained that these dilutions need to be reversed to protect election integrity. But Democrats argue that making elections secure somehow makes elections less fair.
“I think the issue of ensuring — having the public feel that it’s a fair election requires a lot of vigilance and not diluting the safeguards. That’s a separate question about whether fraud actually can be shown to have occurred,” Barr added.
Following this back-and-forth over voter fraud, Tapper pivoted to the former president’s summer 2019 call with Zelenskyy. And like before, Barr defended Trump.
“Well, when you look at the call, he does not condition the aid on doing an investigation of by …,” he said before being cut off.
“You’re a law enforcement guy. You know nobody says, you do this for me, then I will do this for you. It’s more — and when quid pro quos happen …,” Tapper said before Barr then cut him off.
“Well, at the end of the day, if the weapons were delivered — I think it was unseemly. But I don’t — if he had withheld the weapons and actually used that leverage to extract something, that would be a different story in my mind,” the former AG said.
As previously reported in great detail, Trump was impeached in early 2020 over the dubious accusation that, during the 2019 phone call, he’d threatened to withhold aid to Ukraine unless Zelenskyy agreed to help him investigate then-Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden.
The former president was acquitted shortly thereafter based on the Republican-led Senate’s belief that the narrative being pushed by Democrats was a blatant lie easily debunked by, among other things, the call’s transcript and the testimony of top officials:
Released: Trump Ukraine call transcript … POTUS asks Dems for apology https://t.co/SWNO5kU8WE
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) September 25, 2019
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