Former President Donald Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity that he encouraged Attorney General William Barr to investigate baseless voter fraud claims in the aftermath of Trump’s defeat in the 2020 presidential election and
“He didn’t want to be impeached,” Mr Trump said.
According to Mr Barr, who recently published a book that Mr Trump called “so false” in his Fox News interview, the US Justice Department that Mr Barr headed declined to investigate any of Mr Trump’s election-alerting voter fraud claims because there was zero evidence to support them.
“Had Bill Barr had the courage to do what he should have done, instead of being worry about being impeached — I said, ‘Look, get impeached. I went up a lot in the polls when I got impeached. You have to get impeached, maybe,’” Mr Trump said. “But he was so afraid of being impeached, he refused to do his job.”
He added: “I said, ‘Look, get impeached. I went up at lot in the polls when I got impeached. You have to get impeached, maybe.'”
Mr Trump was no stranger to impeachment during his four years in office, getting impeached twice — first for pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rival, the current President Joe Biden, then for his role in instigating the January 6 Capitol riot.
Since leaving office, in January last year, Mr Trump has continued to vigorously and falsely claim that Mr Biden was the beneficiary of voter fraud in his triumph over him in the 2020 election.
In the weeks following the election, Mr Trump and his legal team filed lawsuits and pushed for investigations in a number of closely contested states, hoping to swing the Electoral College result toward the then-president. But they did not have the support of Mr Barr’s Justice Department.
“How do you not get impeached?” Mr Trump said. “You sit back and relax and wait out for your term to end, and that’s what he did. And it was a sad thing, and a sad day for our country.”
In fact, Mr Barr did not wait for his tenure to end, voluntarily leaving his position weeks before the end of the Trump administration.
It was a sudden break in a political alliance that often saw the Justice Department used as a tool to further the president’s political goals. Mr Barr was criticised for inaccurately portraying the findings of the Special Counsel investigation into Mr Trump, led the crackdown on Black Lives Matter protesters in the summer of 2020, was the target of ethics complaints, and, prior to the 2020 election, worked to undermine popular confidence in the integrity of the voting process.
In his new book, Mr Barr wrote that Mr Trump was enraged by his unwillingness to back his electoral fraud claims and that he surrounded himself with “whack jobs from outside the government, who fed him a steady diet of comforting but unsupported conspiracy theories.”
Despite that assessment, Mr Barr vowed to support Mr Trump if he is again the Republican nominee for president in 2024.