“If Even Half of It Is True, He’s Toast”: Bill Barr on Trump Indictment

Former Attorney General Bill Barr described Donald Trump’s 37-count federal indictment as “very, very damning” Sunday morning, the latest in a string of criticisms Barr has made of the former president. The 49-page report, unsealed on Thursday, charges Trump with illegally possessing sensitive government documents and refusing to return them.

“I was shocked by the degree of sensitivity of these documents and how many there were, frankly,” Barr said in an interview with Fox News’ Shannon Bream. “If even half of it is true, he’s toast.” Barr added that he felt the 31 counts that fell under a section of the Espionage Act were “solid counts.”  

Barr’s comments Saturday contrast with his strident criticism of Trump’s indictment in March in New York on charges relating to hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels. Barr has called the New York indictment an “abomination” and “the epitome of the abuse of prosecutorial power,” and described the legal theory underlying the indictment as “pathetically weak…held together with chicken wire, paper clips and rubber bands.” 

The irony of Barr’s comments this morning is that, as attorney general, he helped pour gasoline on the fire of Trump’s persecution complex and fed broader perceptions that Democrats had politicized the criminal legal system. “Your 2016 victory speech in which you reached out to your opponents and called for working together for the benefit of the American people was immediately met by a partisan onslaught against you in which no tactic, no matter how abusive and deceitful, was out of bounds,” Barr wrote to Trump in an obsequious resignation letter in December 2020. 

Barr addressed his past defenses of the president on Saturday. “Yes, he’s been a victim in the past. Yes, his adversaries have obsessively pursued him with phony claims, and I’ve been at his side defending against them when he is a victim,” he said. “But this is much different. He’s not a victim here.”

Yet despite these criticisms, Barr has continued to maintain that he’d still vote for Trump in a Trump-Biden rematch, due to his belief that “the greatest threat to the country is the progressive agenda being pushed by the Democratic Party.” 

Still, Barr’s willingness to comment on the seriousness of the federal indictment makes him one of just a handful of high-ranking Republicans who have deigned to acknowledge the gravity of the charges. The Hill reported Sunday that Senate GOP leaders have stayed largely mum about the indictment, while their House counterparts have descended into howling fits of rage. Just one Senate Republican, who requested to speak anonymously, told The Hill that the federal prosecution wasn’t necessarily politically motivated. 

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