William Barr, who was Former President Donald Trump‘s attorney general until the final months of his administration, appeared Friday to defend the Department of Justice’s decision to raid Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and seize thousands of records.
“I think the driver on this from the beginning was loads of classified information sitting in Mar-A-Lago,” Barr said in a Fox News interview.
“People say this was unprecedented, well, it’s also unprecedented for a president to take all this classified information and put them in a country club, okay?” Barr said.
“How long is the government try to get that back?” Barr went on. “They jawboned for a year, they were deceived on the voluntary actions taken, they then went and got a subpoena, they were deceived on that, they feel.”
Attorney General William Barr speaks in Washington, December 10, 2019.
Al Drago | Reuters
“The facts are starting to show they were being jerked around, so how long do they wait?” Barr added.
The remarks from the former head of the DOJ came as court documents revealed more information about the agency’s criminal investigation into the shipment of classified government records to Mar-a-Lago after Trump left the White House.
FBI agents found four dozen empty document folders marked “CLASSIFIED” during their raid last month of Trump’s club, a newly unsealed court file revealed earlier Friday. Forty-three of those folders were collected from Trump’s office, the court filing said.
The Aug. 8 raid came months after the National Archives retrieved 15 boxes of materials from Trump’s Palm Beach, Florida, resort home in January. FBI agents went to Mar-a-Lago in June to collect all additional records that bore classification markings.
But the FBI later “uncovered multiple sources of evidence” indicating that more classified documents remained at Mar-a-Lago, leading them to seek a warrant to search the premises, according to a DOJ court filing.
Barr said Friday that the search warrant suggests that “for them to have taken things to the current point they probably have pretty good evidence, but that’s speculation.”
Barr also cast doubt on Trump’s claims that he declassified the documents that were taken from Mar-a-Lago, calling it “highly improbable.”
But if Trump indeed “stood over scores of boxes, not really knowing what was in them and said, I hereby declassify everything in here that would be such an abuse and that shows such recklessness that it’s almost worse than taking the documents,” Barr said.
Barr was sworn in as Trump’s attorney general in February 2019. He oversaw the controversial public release of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian meddling and possible coordination with the Trump campaign in the 2016 election. Critics accused him of misrepresenting the Mueller report’s conclusions when he released a four-page summary of it weeks before the full report came out.
Less than a month after Trump lost to President Joe Biden in the 2020 election, Barr publicly split with his boss by undermining his false claims that the race was rigged through widespread fraud. Trump has maintained that the race was rigged against him, even after he left office on Jan. 20, 2021.
As recently as this week, Trump has demanded that he should either be declared the “rightful winner,” or that a do-over election should be held “immediately.”
Barr, in an interview published Dec. 1, 2020, told The Associated Press that the DOJ has “not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”
Trump announced Barr’s resignation two weeks later.