Excerpt Published in The Atlantic Provides Insight into Barr's Take on Election Fraud Claims: 'All Bulls**t'

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Posted: Jun 27, 2021 9:50 PM
Excerpt Published in The Atlantic Provides Insight into Barr's Take on Election Fraud Claims: 'All Bulls**t'

Source: Michael Reynolds/Pool via AP

Just hours after former President Donald Trump gave his Saturday night speech as part of the "Save America Rally" tour, the Atlantic published an excerpt from Jonathan D. Karl's upcoming book, "Betrayal," on the last days of the Trump administration. Karl is the chief Washington correspondent for ABC News. This particular excerpt focuses on Attorney General William Barr, who left his post on December 23, after then President Trump made the announcement on December 14. 

Karl sets a clear tone from the start of the excerpt:

Donald Trump is a man consumed with grievance against people he believes have betrayed him, but few betrayals have enraged him more than what his attorney general did to him. To Trump, the unkindest cut of all was when William Barr stepped forward and declared that there had been no widespread fraud in the 2020 election, just as the president was trying to overturn Joe Biden’s victory by claiming that the election had been stolen.

The excerpt is particularly gaining attention because of the profanity laced conversations in the book. As Karl writes:

But Barr told me he had already concluded that it was highly unlikely that evidence existed that would tip the scales in the election. He had expected Trump to lose and therefore was not surprised by the outcome. He also knew that at some point, Trump was going to confront him about the allegations, and he wanted to be able to say that he had looked into them and that they were unfounded. So, in addition to giving prosecutors approval to open investigations into clear and credible allegations of substantial fraud, Barr began his own, unofficial inquiry into the major claims that the president and his allies were making.

“My attitude was: It was put-up or shut-up time,” Barr told me. “If there was evidence of fraud, I had no motive to suppress it. But my suspicion all the way along was that there was nothing there. It was all bulls**t.”

More noteworthy insight has to do with Mitch McConnell (R-KY), then the Senate Majority Leader. From Karl:

Barr told me that Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell had been urging him to speak out since mid-November. Publicly, McConnell had said nothing to criticize Trump’s allegations, but he told Barr that Trump’s claims were damaging to the country and to the Republican Party. Trump’s refusal to concede was complicating McConnell’s efforts to ensure that the GOP won the two runoff elections in Georgia scheduled for January 5.

To McConnell, the road to maintaining control of the Senate was simple: Republicans needed to make the argument that with Biden soon to be in the White House, it was crucial that they have a majority in the Senate to check his power. But McConnell also believed that if he openly declared Biden the winner, Trump would be enraged and likely act to sabotage the Republican Senate campaigns in Georgia. Barr related his conversations with McConnell to me. McConnell confirms the account.

“Look, we need the president in Georgia,” McConnell told Barr, “and so we cannot be frontally attacking him right now. But you’re in a better position to inject some reality into this situation. You are really the only one who can do it.”

“I understand that,” Barr said. “And I’m going to do it at the appropriate time.”

On another call, McConnell again pleaded with Barr to come out and shoot down the talk of widespread fraud.

“Bill, I look around, and you are the only person who can do it,” McConnell told him.

"Betrayal" comes out on November 16, 2021.