Former President Donald Trump became “detached from reality” in the weeks after he lost the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden, to the point where he refused to hear from even his closest advisers that there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud, according to his former U.S. attorney general, William Barr.
“There was never an indication of interest in what the actual facts were,” Barr said in new video testimony aired during Monday’s hearing of the Jan. 6 committee.
“My opinion then and my opinion now is that the election was not stolen by fraud,” he said. “And I haven’t seen anything since the election that changes my mind on that.”
Barr’s deposition to the committee was a central piece of Monday’s hearing, which was focused on proving that Trump and his advisers knew he had lost the election to Biden, but that, despite that, Trump “engaged in a massive effort to spread false and fraudulent information to convince huge portions of the U.S. population that fraud had stolen the election from him.”
In his pre-recorded testimony, Barr recalled that Trump was “as mad as I’ve ever seen him” in early December 2020, when the then-U.S. attorney general told The Associated Press that he saw no evidence of widespread voter fraud. Barr said he had a previously scheduled meeting with the president a few hours after he gave that interview. When he arrived, Trump was so angry that he talked about himself in the third-person.
“He said, ‘This is killing me. You didn’t have to say this,’” Barr said Trump yelled at him. “‘You must have said this because you hate Trump. You hate Trump.’”
Barr said he repeatedly told the president his claims of widespread voter fraud were “bullshit,” and that he wasted a month making “idiotic claims” about Dominion Voting Services, a voting machine company, leading to massive fraud.
“It was like playing whack-a-mole,” Barr said, with all the “bogus and silly” claims of election fraud. “I told him it was crazy stuff.”
Barr said there was a big shift in Trump’s state of mind before and after he lost election.
“Before the election, it was possible to talk sense into the president,” he said. “While you sometimes had to engage in a big wrestling match with him, it was possible to keep things on track. But I felt that after the election, he didn’t seem to be listening.”
Barr resigned on Dec. 14, 2020.
Of course, Trump had been pushing lies about the likelihood of voter fraud well before the November 2020 election. For months, he had been laying the groundwork for rejecting the election results if he lost. And his efforts were all in plain view.
Many of the same former Trump administration officials now saying they pushed back on Trump’s lies, like Barr, were publicly silent as the president and other top Republicans like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) went on national television to fuel lies about the election being stolen.
Barr himself helped to sow doubts about the reliability of the 2020 election results. In September 2020, he falsely claimed on CNN that elections that have been held with mail-in ballots have resulted in “substantial fraud and coercion.” He went on to falsely claim that the Justice Department indicted someone in Texas for illegally tampering with 1,700 ballots. Both of his claims were wildly untrue and debunked by The Washington Post.
And for all the pushback that the former U.S. attorney general now says he engaged in with Trump over his delusions about the election, he lavished Trump with nothing but praise and gratitude in his resignation letter.
“I appreciate the opportunity to update you on the Department’s review of voter fraud allegations in the 2020 elections and how these allegations will continue to be pursued,” reads the first sentence of Barr’s resignation letter to Trump.