In a recorded deposition played by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, Bill Barr addressed the myriad false claims of election fraud he encountered as the former attorney general.
“I was influenced by the fact that early claims that I understood were bogus and silly and usually based on misinformation, so I did not consider the quality of claims right out of the box to give me any feeling there was substance here,” he said in a video played on June 13.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D- Calif., noted that former President Donald Trump continued to lie about election fraud even after Barr told him those claims were false, adding that Trump berated and nearly fired Barr.
Barr said that he was particularly disturbed by baseless and “idiotic” claims regarding the functionality of Dominion Voting machines because they influenced members of the public, causing some to believe the nonsensical idea that the machines were controlled by people and emblematic of systemic corruption.
“I told them that it was crazy stuff and they were wasting their time on that,” Barr said. “It was doing a great, grave disservice to the country.”
Barr detailed an exchange with the former president in which Trump handed Barr a misleading report that he said indicated those machines were designed to engage in fraud. Barr emphasized that he did not see any information to support that conclusion.
“I was somewhat demoralized because I thought ‘Boy, if he really believes this stuff, he’s become detached from reality,’” Barr said. He added that when he told Trump that those allegations were “crazy,” the former president did not show much interest in “what the actual facts were.” Barr reiterated that in his opinion, the 2020 presidential election was not stolen by fraud and he has not seen any evidence since then to change his mind.
The hearing was the second of several planned by the Jan. 6 committee that focused on how Trump actively spread false information about the 2020 election outcome – what has become known as the “big lie” – in the run up to the Jan. 6 insurrection. In the year since its creation, the committee has conducted more than 1,000 interviews, seeking critical information and documents from people witness to, or involved in, the violence that day.
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