Former Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday dismissed arguments that Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election amounted to free speech, saying the administration had a “legitimate” case after Tuesday’s indictment of the former president.
Trump has been indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with his attempts to remain in power after losing the election to Joe Biden. He is charged with four felonies in which he proposes multiple conspiracies designed to defraud the United States, obstruct an official process, and deprive Americans of the right to vote and have that vote counted.
The former president’s lawyers reacted furiously, accusing the Justice Department of attacking free speech and undermining Trump’s First Amendment rights. But Barr, who served under Trump until Dec. 23, 2020, told CNN those claims were false.
“As the indictment states, they do not violate his First Amendment rights. He can say whatever he wants. He can even lie,” Barr told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins on Wednesday. “He can even tell people the election was stolen even though he knew better. However, that doesn’t protect you from conspiring. All conspiracies involve speeches and all fraud involves speeches.”
“From a legal point of view, I see no problem with the charges,” he added. “I think it’s not abuse. The Justice Department is not acting to weaponize the Department by targeting the President for conspiracy to subvert the electoral process.”
Barr continued to confirm key points in the indictment, saying Trump had been repeatedly told there was no evidence of voter fraud.
“People who knew anything about whether or not there was fraud all said the election wasn’t stolen by fraud,” he said, adding that Trump “would be looking for an attorney who would give him the advice that.” he wanted.” .”
“He wouldn’t listen to all the lawyers in different departments or the White House.”
The indictment is Trump’s third in four months. Special Counsel Jack Smith has charged the former president with 40 felonies related to his handling of classified documents. Trump was also charged in New York with hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels in the closing days of the 2016 presidential campaign.
Barr added Wednesday that his former boss has implicated many former aides and supporters in his misdeeds, and warned he will continue to do the same.
“He leaves behind a ruined life like this. The people who went up Capitol Hill, those people [in the documents case], many of the people who served him… . He just puts this whole bloodbath behind him. … Loyalty is a two-way street for him.”