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Barr calls Trump's fraud claims 'detached from reality' in Jan. 6 panel testimony

Former Attorney General Bill Barr is seen on a screen during a hearing held by the House Jan. 6 committee on Monday.
Drew Angerer
Getty Images
Former Attorney General Bill Barr is seen on a screen during a hearing held by the House Jan. 6 committee on Monday.

Former Attorney General Bill Barr said he became "demoralized" when discussing allegations of voting fraud tied to Dominion voting machines with former President Donald Trump because Trump had "become detached from reality if he really believes this stuff."

Appearing at the Jan. 6 committee hearing Monday via video testimony recorded earlier, Barr told the panel that Trump had no interest in what the facts were.

"Before the election, it was possible to talk sense to the president and, while you sometimes had to engage in a big wrestling match with him, it was possible to keep things on track," Barr said in interviews recorded earlier this year with the committee. "I felt that after the election he didn't seem to be listening."

Claims that the voting machines of Dominion Voting Systems had been tampered with were woven into one of the biggest conspiracy theories to come out of the 2020 election. Dominion later sued Fox in a $1.6 billion defamation suit that is still pending.

Even before the polls closed on Nov. 3, Trump had discussed the potential voter fraud, and for weeks after he floated various allegations of how the election was "stolen" that were eventually debunked. Of all Trump's allegations, Barr found those related to Dominion the most disturbing.

"Disturbing in the sense that I saw actually zero basis for the allegations," he said, "but they were made in such a sensational way that they obviously were influencing a lot of people."

Barr told the Jan. 6 committee that the first time he talked to Trump after the election was Nov. 23. Barr's intent to resign was announced on Dec. 14.

"The [Justice] department is not an extension of your legal team," he said he told Trump, adding that Trump's claims of election fraud were "not meritorious."

He said that he asked Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, and Jared Kushner, the president's adviser and son-in-law, after the meeting with Trump: "How long is he going to carry on with this stolen election stuff?"

Meadows, Barr said, replied: "I think that he's becoming more realistic."

Kushner, he said, replied: "Yeah, we're working on this. We're working on it."

Despite his testimony to the Jan. 6 committee, Barr doesn't rule out voting for Trump again, but that Republicans shouldn't nominate him again.

"It would be a big mistake to put him forward, but if he was the nominee I would vote for him over the Democrat." Barr told Newsmax's Sean Spicer in April.

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Ximena Bustillo
Ximena Bustillo is a multi-platform reporter at NPR covering politics out of the White House and Congress on air and in print.
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