October 2, 2022

Former Attorney General Bill Barr called the newest federal grand jury subpoenas investigating the Jan. 6, 2020 Capitol riot “a major development,” suggesting that government prosecutors are investigating high-ranking Trump administration officials and allies, including former president Donald Attu.

“That suggests to me that they’re taking a hard look at the team at the top, including the president and the people around him who were involved in this,” Barr told CBS News’ Catherine Herridge in an interview Friday.

The grand jury meets weekly. at the end of July, Marc Shortformer Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff testified, and according to the Washington Post, Greg JacobPence’s chief counsel, was also interviewed by the grand jury.

The Justice Department’s January 6 criminal investigation now includes questions for witnesses about the communications of persons close to Trump and his re-election campaign, though the CBS News report did not indicate that Trump himself is a target of the investigation — only that prosecutors were asking questions about him and his aides.

Barr also speculated that it appears prosecutors “will try to make a decision on the issue of executive privilege,” given References by ABC News and other news outlets that former White House counsel Pat Cipollone has been subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury. The former attorney general noted that Cipollone, then counsel to the Office of the President, “has the strongest claim to executive privilege.”

“That’s kind of the biggest mountain for them to climb, and the fact that they’re leading with it to me suggests that they want a definitive solution — not just for Cipollone — but you know, it’s going to affect [former White House chief of staff Mark] Meadows and some of the other people too,” he said.

While Barr believes Trump may be able to block some testimony with an executive privilege argument, he said, “I don’t think he would block all the testimony.” He jotted down a list of ways a privilege argument “doesn’t apply here.”

“One argument,” he said, “is that he resigned from Biden and should run — if Biden can do it or if Trump can do it.”

The former president’s lawsuits to shield documents or testimony with privilege arguments have so far been rejected by courts, on the grounds that the requests were valid and Mr. Biden had the privilege to resign.

Barr also pointed out that executive privilege does not apply in criminal cases.

“Another argument they have is that the criminal justice process, as opposed to Congress — the criminal justice process — the executive privilege has to go — you can’t hide behind that when a criminal justice committee is involved,” Barr said. .

“And then they would have other arguments, like the criminal fraud exception,” Barr told Herridge. “If it’s part of the crime itself, it’s not covered.”

“And another argument they would have is that some of the specific things weren’t really executive privilege,” Barr said. “The president was acting in his capacity as a candidate, not the president.”

Still, Barr suggested that if the case against Trump turns out to be essentially what the panel revealed on Jan. 6, it probably isn’t enough to convict the former president.

Although he believes that the evidence has been established, after the last hearings on January 6, “if it is what it is, as the attorney general, I still do not see it as a sufficient basis to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed by the president”. Barr said he believes the Justice Department is still “getting deeper and deeper into this,” and if Attorney General Merrick Garland finds a crime, he will prosecute.

The former president has strongly suggested that he would like to run for president again in 2024. His 2016 campaign manager and former White House adviser Kellyanne Conway told Herridge last week that Trump is eager to announce he’s running again and actually wishes he was “already in the race.”

Barr feels optimistic about the GOP’s future. “I think the future is bright for the Republican Party,” he said, suggesting the GOP could even hold the presidency for the next 12 years.

“I see 2024 creating another 1980, where when Reagan won two terms and then Bush won a third term,” he said. It’s what he believes is necessary “to make America great again, you know — decisive victory in response to the excesses of progressive Democrats.”

But it’s not Trump who would do that, Barr says. “I don’t think he should be the nominee,” he said of Trump. “I think it would be very bad for the party and I don’t support him as a candidate.”

As the former attorney general put it, if Trump were to win, he would be a “78-year-old lame duck who is obviously bent on revenge more than anything else.”

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