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Barr Dismisses Trump’s Request for a Special Master


WASHINGTON — Former Attorney General William P. Barr dismissed former President Donald J. Trump’s call for an independent review of materials seized from his Florida home on Friday — and said a list of things recovered within the search last month looked as if it would support the Justice Department’s claim that it was needed to safeguard national security.

“As more information comes out, the actions of the department look more comprehensible,” Mr. Barr told The Recent York Times in a phone interview, speaking of the choice by the present attorney general, Merrick B. Garland, to hunt a search warrant of the complex at Mar-a-Lago.

“It seems to me they were driven by concern about highly sensitive information being strewn throughout a rustic club, and it was taking them almost two years to get it back,” said Mr. Barr, who resigned in December 2020, as Mr. Trump pushed him to support false claims that the election had been stolen.

“It seems that there’s been a variety of jerking around of the federal government,” he added. “I’m undecided the department could have gotten it back without taking motion.”

Asked what he considered the argument for the appointment of a special master, an independent arbiter to review the fabric that might delay the investigation, Mr. Barr laughed.

“I feel it’s a crock of shit,” he said, adding, “I don’t think a special master is named for.”

Mr. Barr has not been afraid to criticize Mr. Trump since leaving office, but he has seldom been quite so blunt in his assessment as through the interview on Friday afternoon, or earlier within the day when he expressed similar sentiments on Fox News.

Mr. Barr’s comments, which echo the assessment of many Democrats and a number of Republicans, including the previous Bush adviser Karl Rove, got here as Mr. Trump’s supporters tried to downplay the importance of the inventory unsealed by a federal judge in Florida.

The eight-page document, which was made public with the tacit assent of the previous president’s lawyers, revealed that the F.B.I. recovered 11,179 documents or photographs without classification markings belonging to the federal government, and greater than 100 others marked top secret, secret or confidential.

“It’s hard to wrap your head around him taking a lot sensitive materials,” Mr. Barr said. “I used to be, let’s just say, surprised.”

As attorney general, Mr. Barr selected to not pursue criminal charges against Mr. Trump after the 2019 report into Mr. Trump’s actions within the Russia investigation. Last month, the department released a memo commissioned by Mr. Barr, by which two deputies rejected a prosecution, saying that none of Mr. Trump’s actions could possibly be shown beyond an inexpensive doubt to be criminal acts.

And while he generally backed the department’s investigation into Mr. Trump’s handling of classified documents and unequivocally supported the federal government’s retrieval of sensitive materials, he seemed far less certain a few potential prosecution on charges of obstruction or the Espionage Act, which prohibits the unauthorized retention of national security secrets.

“They must think concerning the impact on the country of the precedent set by trying a former president,” Mr. Barr said.

For his part, Mr. Garland has repeatedly said that he would go where the evidence leads him, and that he would act without “fear or favor” in terms of making decisions in matters involving Mr. Trump and his allies.

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