Bill Barr, Former U.S. Attorney General and author of One Damn Thing After Another joined the Guy Benson Show to talk about a variety of topics.
Listen to the full interview below:
GUY BENSON, FOX RADIO HOST: With me here in studio is Bill Barr, former U.S. attorney general serving two different U.S. presidents.
He’s also author of the bestselling book, his memoir, “One Damn Thing After Another.”
I feel like you could be writing a sequel, “Another Series of One Damn Thing After Another.”
BENSON: Mr. Attorney General, it’s good to see you.
WILLIAM BARR, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Good to see you, Guy.
BENSON: I want to start with the Biden investigation.
I understand that there’s only so much you can say because some of it began when you were attorney general, but there are critiques from some on the right saying, well, why wasn’t this taken more seriously? And why were some of these bad decisions made while Trump was still president? You were running the DOJ.
And then other people are wondering, OK, since Biden took over and we’re learning more about the sequence of this, for instance, it’s been now widely reported, The Times, Politico, that David Weiss was apparently prepared to give an even sweeter sweetheart deal to Hunter Biden, until these whistle-blowers came forward.
And then they said, oh, wait, never mind, let’s cook up some misdemeanor something to plead to. That reeks of politics to me. It doesn’t seem like blind justice. It feels like politicized justice. What are you able to say about that? What’s your analysis there?
BARR: Well, I’d say that there was an investigation under way while I was the attorney general.
And I think the general principle at the department is, if there’s a secret investigation that’s not yet public knowledge, and you’re not going to have time to resolve it before an upcoming election, you don’t put it out in public right before the election, or at a time where the person’s not going to have the resolution of it before the election.
And so, before the election, the 2020 election, there would have been good reasons not to take certain public steps and to defer them until after the election. And I noticed the whistle-blowers were saying defer. They were told to defer things.
And, in fact, they say that they had a D-Day planned for after the election, where they were going to go and do a lot of things. So it wouldn’t surprise me that there were decisions made before the election not to take certain public steps. That would be in accordance with Justice policy.
But after the election, I see no basis for deferring election — deferring investigative steps. And I think those are the things that should concern everybody.
BENSON: Yes, absolutely, because just sitting in my chair, and you read these articles that come across your desk, you’re like, OK, Joe Biden’s Justice Department was prepared to hand Hunter Biden not even a single guilty plea. He gets away with basically everything, including on some what appeared to be clear-cut felonies.
And the only thing that changed the calculus was bad P.R. from investigators saying, whoa, this is — this reeks to high heaven. And then they doctor up some charges at the very last minute and change their mind. It just doesn’t seem like an application of the law based on the law.
BARR: Well, I’m very worried about what happened, and that’s what I want to see. I want to see it explained.
There’s been 2.5 years since I left. I was surprised nothing was really — came to light during that period, and I’d like to see what’s happened.
But aside from those things that were pending, that is, the gun case and the tax case, there’s the fundamental issue about all these financial activities that Hunter Biden was involved in and whether those were chased down, whether that was vigorously pursued.
And I’m waiting for the explanation, like everyone else.
BENSON: Last point on this. I have seen some Biden defenders and apologists saying, well, this was active during Donald Trump and Bill Barr, and there was no evidence to any of this, and the case was closed.
I know you have pushed back on that, saying, no, the case was not closed. In fact, there was significant evidence being found, I believe, in Pennsylvania, and they were instructed to hand that ball off to Delaware.
And then it seemed like Delaware just fumbled it into the ocean or something. I don’t know what happened there.
BARR: Well, I don’t know what happened either, but, in the late summer, early fall, the Pittsburgh office developed information, very significant information, that really had to be run down, and, basically, someone saying that they believed there had been bribes paid.
And that was given to the Delaware office to follow up on. And I don’t know what happened to it.
BENSON: Well, as Jonathan Turley has called it, it seems like the Weiss investigation is where evidence has gone to die.
And now David Weiss is special counsel. They said he didn’t have to be special counsel, he had all the authority, although there’s reporting today that there was a lot of main Justice involvement. It wasn’t so separate. And all sorts of questions about what authorities Weiss did or did not have throughout the process.
But they swore up and down it wasn’t necessary. And then Merrick Garland, your successor, comes in and says, well, actually, never mind, we will appoint a special counsel after all. It’ll be the same guy that has made all these questionable decisions.
Do you have any opinion, the decision to make Weiss a special counsel?
BARR: Well, I think, if he was going to make a special counsel, it should have been done when he came in.
And I think, for him — once all these questions came up and the whistle-blowers and so forth came up and questions about how Weiss has handled it, it doesn’t seem that that was a smart choice. And I understand there’s a lot of concern about whether does this mean not he’s — they’re really — not he, but are they trying to drag it out and not respond to Congress and so forth?
My advice has been, go up and work with the congressional oversight to persuade them that this has been handled properly.
BENSON: Which, in my view, it hasn’t. I think that’s a very tough thing to sell to James Comer for reasons that he explained on this show last week, chapter and verse, talking about some of these bank transactions and shell corporations.
The list goes on. And they keep finding more interesting evidence that apparently David Weiss and his team didn’t know about or didn’t have any interest in.
I want to shift, Mr. Attorney General, to Donald Trump. Of course, he is running to be president again. He’s got these four active indictments against him. You have commented on all of them. Some, you have taken more seriously than others.
You have said some of it’s garbage and politics, other charges very serious and based in fact. Before we get into some of that, you were mentioning to me during the commercial break one thing that you’re seeing from some political actors on the left that really irks you that you think is dangerous, this effort in some places to disqualify Donald Trump from the ballot using the criminal charges as an excuse to do so.
What do you make of that?
BARR: Well, it’s this idea that part of the 14th Amendment that was passed after the Civil War basically said, if you have engaged in an insurrection against the United States and broke your oath of loyalty to the United States as an official, then you can’t serve in the federal government as an official again.
And the argument is being made that he was involved in insurrection and, therefore, he can’t be on the ballot. And I think that’s wrong. I think it — and it’s not only wrong legally, in my opinion. It’s very dangerous, because the word insurrection passed right after the Civil War, I think, was referring to insurrection like you would see on the battlefields of Antietam.
And I noticed that the Department of Justice has not even charged Trump with instigating violence. They haven’t charged him with it.
BENSON: Right. That isn’t in the battery of charges from that indictment.
BARR: That’s not in the indictment, right. And they’re charging him with a conspiracy, but to send votes back to the states.
But I think it’s dangerous to refer to that as insurrection, which I think involves the armed — an armed effort to overthrow the government. And who decides that? I mean, we’re going to have chaos in the United States if every state secretary starts trying to keep people off the ballot because they changed — changed — chained themselves to a recruitment station or something like that.
I mean, where do you draw the line?
BENSON: Yes, this could be weaponized…
BENSON: … and could just be very destabilizing.
There are statutes that deal with the obstruction of the federal function or obstruction. Those are the statutes that are applicable. To try to define it now as insurrection, like all things the left does, which is just misuse language and use it as a weapon, very dangerous thing to do here.
All right, so I want to quote to you — I’m sure you have seen this at some point today. Donald Trump has been sort of going hard on social media the last 24 hours or so.
BENSON: And he had a few things to say about you, including this, describing you “as slow-thinking and lethargic,” saying that you didn’t have the “courage or stamina to fight the radical left lunatics while you were attorney general and who, even more importantly,” he says, “refused to fight election fraud, of which there was much and he knew it was going on. Just look at his past remarks.”
Do you care to respond to any of that?
BARR: Not particularly, except say that he sung a very different tune up until the time I told him that we hadn’t found election fraud that he was asserting and telling American people that the election had been stolen.
Up until that point, he sang a very different tune.
BENSON: Oh, was, like, exemplary, one of the best ever, all of that.
BENSON: Yes, he does have a tendency to attack a lot of people who’ve worked for him.
BENSON: You’re not alone in this regard.
Is there a lesson there, in your mind?
BARR: Well, I have said my observation is the only people that have a continuing — can have a continuing relationship with him are people who are economically dependent on them.
I can’t think of a person who’s independent, has independent stature and resources that stick with him.
BENSON: Let’s talk about these four cases and then specifically the intersection of the law and the legal thicket with the election season, because there’s a lot of overlap there.
We have heard from Trump supporters saying it’s election interference. They could have charged him a year or two ago. They’re waiting until the middle of an election cycle. Is that unfair? I wonder what you think of that.
And then you have a lot of experience in this realm. What trial dates seem reasonable or likely to you right now, because we’re getting proposed trial dates and other people saying, well, that’s totally unrealistic. Paint a picture for us of what this maybe could realistically look like.
BARR: Well, first, the background principle here is that, if you have a public investigation going on, so it’s not like a secret investigation, but a public investigation, and you’re charging someone who — and there’s enough time to resolve that through a trial before the election…
BENSON: Before a general election.
BARR: Before — yes, before a general election, that you should try it.
People — the people deserve — deserve the answer. And this has been known a long time. The January 6, it’s been a long time. Even — even the Mar-a-Lago document issue has been a long time. And I think there is time to try them before the general election.
The fact that you — you don’t get immunity by announcing that you’re running for office. I mean, just think of a — just think of a — some guy is running — Joe Blow is running for mayor. He’s a — he’s the incumbent mayor. He’s been charged with massive embezzlement.
He announces he’s going to be running for reelection in, what, two years, a year-and-a-half before that. That’s, oh, I’m sorry, we can’t bring you to trial?
BENSON: Right. There’s not an indemnity because you’re running for office.
BENSON: But, like, to the question of — all right, you said the…
BARR: But what happens…
BARR: But what happens if — what happens if the person’s elected and they’re guilty of a serious crime? People say, well, shouldn’t we have known that before we voted?
So, it’s — there’s no easy answer. But I think, in this case, it’s legitimate to try to — if the case — if charges are legitimate, then it’s legitimate to try to have them resolved.
BENSON: President Trump left office in January of 2021. Is there a fair point to say, why didn’t some of these charges come much sooner? Why did we wait until a presidential cycle was under way? Or is that the normal course of events in terms of timing?
BARR: Well, on the document case, they waited for a year-and-a-half because they were trying to get him to give them the documents.
BENSON: And then there would have been no charges.
BARR: There would — I don’t think there would have been charges.
He’s — he’s really — the charges were brought — now, they have added in some of his other activity there, that is, the willful retention of some of the documents. But he’s being tried because there were two egregious examples of — according to the indictment, of obstruction, where he lied to the government in a brazen way and misled the government in a brazen way and tried to destroy videotapes.
So that happened — that has been a fast investigation. The January 6 one was slow in getting started on going after the big players in the White House, but, really, by the — given the rate of federal investigations, it hasn’t been that lethargic.
BENSON: So you think that it is entirely possible that, one, possibly two federal trials will happen before Election Day 2024?
BARR: Yes, I think — I think that the document case is the most serious case.
It’s a very — to me, if the allegations are correct, it is clear-cut, clear-cut, and it’s not very complicated. And it actually could be tried much earlier than the — in my opinion.
And the judge set the date. She set the date for May. But I think that that’s pretty far out, given what could have been done. But taking May, May should be accomplishable.
The other case, January 6, is a more complicated case, I think.
BENSON: That’s supposed to be March, right?
BARR: Yes, that’s been set for March 4. And I think that’s a very businesslike schedule, and there’s a lot of other stuff going on, not only the election, but the other cases, like the Atlanta case.
But I think that’s achievable. I think this judge can get it done. Can I just say, Guy, that I have been very clear that I think the document case, it’s hard for me to see how any attorney general would walk away from that. I don’t care if they’re Republican or Democrat. Given the evidence alleged, I don’t see how an attorney general could say, OK, sorry, that’s OK.
The January 6 one, I think, is legally legitimate, but I think there’s a good argument as to whether or not, from a prudential reason, it’s going to end up causing more harm than good. And people can argue about that, and maybe it shouldn’t have been brought. But I don’t think it’s an abuse to have brought it.
BENSON: Mr. Attorney General, I have one more subject I want to tackle with you.
Let’s do it after this very quick break.
Bill Barr on “The Guy Benson Show.” Stay tuned.
BENSON: Former Attorney General Bill Barr, my guest here in studio in D.C.
And you were just talking about the Mar-a-Lago case. I want to handle this question of the two-tiered system of justice that many conservatives see. It does hearken back to Hillary Clinton and the things that she did when she was secretary of state. She did all of those things, slightly different details, obviously, but the thrust of it was the same.
And the decision was made not to prosecute her. Jim Comey, of course, saying no prosecutor would ever bring this case. And I just think a lot of conservatives, whether they love Trump or not, say for her to not be prosecuted and for him to be prosecuted just feels wrong and unfair.
Is there something to that, especially when you throw in the Hunter Biden stuff and the way that was almost resolved?
BARR: I do think there’s a double standard, and I have consistently said there’s a double standard. And I think it consists in the department being willing and, in fact, being much more willing to pursue aggressively Republican — Republicans for alleged wrongdoing than Democrats.
They will figure out a way to, well, we’re not going to pursue that. So I think there is one.
Hillary — you know, as President Trump himself said when he was discussing with his lawyers potentially not producing the documents that had been subpoenaed in Mar-a-Lago, he said, well, Hillary got away with it because she did it through her lawyers.
And he pays attention to what’s going on, and he understood the lay of the land. And her — she — her lawyers were the ones that destroyed…
BENSON: But it was — it was a relevant example, given the facts available at the time. And that’s the point that you’re making on double standards.
We have got to leave it there because we’re up on a break.
BENSON: Bill Barr, former U.S. attorney general serving two presidents, George H.W. Bush and Donald Trump, his book is “One Damn Thing After Another.”
It’s really good to see you. Thank you.
BARR: Good to see you, Guy.