But it is a sign of the extreme choices Trump is imposing on those who served him, as the hard-line professional lawyer now finds himself on the same side as liberals once accused of defending America’s democracy.
His blunt rants not only deconstruct the former president’s fictional claims that he won the 2020 election. It also debunks the whole false premise of Trump’s nascent 2024 campaign: that he was cheated out of power and that he deserves his job back.
Trump modified his assessment, delivered after Barr tortured Democrats in a fiery May 2019 hearing: “He’s an outstanding man. He’s an outstanding legal mind.”
In a post on the Truth Social website on Monday, the former president alleged that Barr lacked “the courage or stamina to pursue voter fraud.” During Barr’s test before the commission, there was no evidence of significant fraud.
Trump is ‘detached from reality’
It was Barr’s second term as attorney general—repeating the role he once served in most traditional Republican presidents, George H.W. Bush—and he ventured into history as an enabler for the often outlawed residents of the Oval Office. Perhaps that hints at his motivation, at the end of his long career in Washington, to get rid of Trump’s fraudulent fantasies under oath before the committee — and he clearly enjoys doing so.
He quickly emerged as the most important witness in televised hearings as the committee made the case that Trump knew his election lies were wrong but used them to incite an unprecedented coup to try to stay in power.
Like many other former members of Trump’s orbit, Barr appeared to be trying to cement his role for posterity as part of the “regular team,” as former campaign manager Bill Stebbin said in his recorded testimony. He told Barr how he decided to leave office early after Trump stopped listening to sensations in his final days in office.
He testified, “I thought, ‘Oh boy, if he really believed in these things, he lost touch with him – become detached from reality if he really believed in these things’.”
Watching a bar testify behind closed doors, the committee staff must have thought they hit the jackpot in trying to blame the rebellion at the hands of the former president.
That’s because Barr’s recurring role as a paralysis of an unfettered president now makes him more credible as a witness who could deliver a fatal blow to Trump. It is unclear, of course, whether his testimony will have much political impact, especially after he has stood by Trump and questioned the election system for so long. Millions of Trump supporters have long accepted the former president’s lies about election fraud, and the House’s conservative and Republican media have proceeded to discredit the committee’s hearings. But a conservative and former Trump loyalist like Barr may have at least some resonance among those who loved Trump’s policies but hated his behaviour.
Democrats once accused Barr of lying to Congress
For several months after taking office in February 2019, Barr tarnished his image in Washington as the conservative shooter who could be trusted to defend Washington’s institutions against Trump. Evidence of his changing personality was on his way back to the Justice Department.
Angry Democrats confronted Barr in the May 2019 hearing over his handling of Mueller’s work. Senator. Mazi Hirono of Hawaii, for example, called for him to quit. “I lied,” she said. “Now we know.” “Being the Attorney General of the United States is a sacred trust. You betrayed that trust.”
Bar shield for the then-president created the impression that he might end up being the kind of loyal fact that Trump longed for in first FBI director James Comey, and first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, both of whom were fired for resisting. He tries to close the Mueller investigation.
Even shortly before the 2020 election, Barr appeared to amplify Trump’s warnings that election fraud was a real danger by telling CNN’s Wolf Pletzer that he worried a foreign country might be sending thousands of fake ballot papers into the election system.
But there were also indications that working with Trump was driving Barr to a distraction. In February 2020, he complained that the then-president’s tweets had made it “impossible” for him to do his job and damaged the Justice Department’s image.
When Barr turned on Trump
In his testimony aired Monday, Barr complained about “foolish” claims that Dominion’s voting machines had been tampered with and criticized the latest conservative conspiracy theories contained in the “2000 Mule” documentary, in which Trump once again falsely claimed evidence of fraud.
No longer a loyal Barr, he has now found himself as the focus of a House Select Committee investigation, his graphic depiction of the former president’s denial and unbridled state of mind damaging Trump’s reputation.
Much of Barr’s testimony was woven into a case revealing how Trump knew his election claims were false but pushed them anyway, made by the Democratic Representative. Zoe Lofgren on criminal show before the committee on Monday.
But in May 2019, the California Democrat had a tougher stance on Barr after a vote in the House Judiciary Committee to object to a failure to comply with a subpoena for a full and unredacted copy of the Mueller report.
“He is abdicating his responsibility before the law and limiting the ability of Congress to perform our constitutional duties,” Lofgren said at the time. “This obstruction must have consequences.”
Her use of Barr’s testimony now as Congress tries once again to hold Trump to account shows just how much Trump’s anti-democratic behavior has turned Washington on its head, with some of his former loyalists turning into staunch enemies.