The escalating feud between former President Trump and his one-time Attorney General Bill Barr is reaching a fever pitch, with Trump’s indictment on federal charges last week adding accelerant to what had already been a fiery break between the two men.
Barr has been among the most prominent conservatives or former Trump administration officials to publicly criticize their former boss’s behavior and vouch for the strength of the federal indictment against him, undercutting defenses offered up by Trump and his allies.
Barr has called special counsel Jack Smith’s indictment “damning,” dismissed Trump’s defenses as “absurd,” and compared Trump to a “defiant 9-year-old kid.”
In response, Trump has called Barr a “gutless pig,” a “RINO,” meaning Republican in Name Only, and a “coward,” reserving some of his harshest language for the man he once praised as “one of the most respected jurists in the country.”
“So nice to see that Sloppy, Low Energy RINO Bill Barr, gets loudly booed and shouted at everywhere he goes! He is sooo bad for America,” Trump wrote Tuesday on his Truth Social platform.
Barr served as Trump’s attorney general for two years before resigning in December 2020, when he first broke with Trump as the former president pushed claims that the 2020 election was rigged and fraudulent. Barr had declared that the Justice Department he oversaw at the time found no basis to claims of widespread voter fraud that led to Trump’s election loss.
In the past year in particular, Barr has emerged as an outspoken critic of his former boss, testifying before the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol and becoming one of the most outspoken Republicans regarding the seriousness of the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago last August to retrieve classified documents from Trump’s time in the White House.
The indictment details that Trump sought to retain documents containing some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets, including the withholding of national defense information and the concealment of his possession of classified documents. Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
In an op-ed published Monday in The Free Press, Barr laid out the facts of the documents case and pushed back on Trump’s various defenses, including that he had a right to keep the classified material under the Presidential Records Act and that he’s the victim of a double standard.
“For the sake of the country, our party, and a basic respect for the truth, it is time that Republicans come to grips with the hard truths about President Trump’s conduct and its implications,” Barr wrote. “Chief among them: Trump’s indictment is not the result of unfair government persecution. This is a situation entirely of his own making. The effort to present Trump as a victim in the Mar-a-Lago document affair is cynical political propaganda.”
Trump has been particularly irate at Barr in the roughly two weeks since he announced he’d been indicted in the documents case, lashing out on Truth Social, savaging him on a radio show hosted by political operative and Trump ally Roger Stone and again targeting his former attorney general in an interview conducted Monday.
“Bill Barr was a coward. Bill Barr didn’t do what he was supposed to do. I fired him. And he has great hatred,” Trump said in a Fox News interview aired Monday. “And that’s OK, because some people do. And some people love me very much.”
Trump’s ire is consistent with his habit of dumping on officials he previously nominated or appointed who have since criticized him in some way.
In Monday’s interview, Fox anchor Bret Baier noted that Barr, former Defense Secretary Mark Esper, former Vice President Mike Pence, former national security adviser John Bolton and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are among those who have questioned Trump’s judgment or character in some way since the end of his administration.
Baier also listed to Trump a litany of insults the former president has issued to each of those former officials in return.
Those who previously worked under Barr in the Justice Department have argued that he is committed to the rule of law and issues of national security. They also noted that he has been far more outspoken in defending probes led by the DOJ, a department he led under two different presidents.
Others have noted that there are political factors at play as well. The former attorney general is a dedicated, longtime Republican who has made it clear he would like to see the GOP move on from Trump.
“I think Barr is trying to cleanse himself of his Trump association, which is not likely to work with anyone who paid attention to what he did for Trump as AG,” said Alan Morrison, a law professor at George Washington University. “I also think that he is trying to get Republicans to move away from Trump as the best means of taking the White House in 2024.”
In an interview Sunday on CBS, Barr again made the case that Trump is unfit to serve another term in the White House.
“He will always put his own interests, and gratifying his own ego, ahead of everything else, including the country’s interest. There’s no question about it,” Barr said.
“Our country can’t be a therapy session for, you know, a troubled man like this,” Barr said.
Source: The Hill