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Bill Barr testifies before House Jan. 6 committee about Trump election claims

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Former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr is seen on video during his deposition for the general public hearing of the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the US Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 9, 2022. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Former Attorney General William Barr picked apart claims of widespread fraud during his conversations with President Donald Trump after the 2020 election, but Trump refused to imagine that the outcomes were legitimate, Barr said in recorded testimony presented Monday.

In comments to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Barr portrayed Trump’s election fraud claims as farcical. Barr’s testimony, shown on the panel’s second public hearing detailing the findings of its probe, portrayed Trump as unwilling to imagine his then-attorney general when Barr dismissed false claims concerning the election results.

“After the election, he didn’t appear to be listening,” Barr said in describing his interactions with Trump following the previous president’s loss to President Joe Biden.

Barr publicly stated there was no widespread election fraud in an interview published within the Associated Press in December 2020. He resigned from his job that very same month.

Barr said during his committee testimony that Trump’s false claims concerning the election contributed to his decision to depart the administration.

House investigators showed Barr’s testimony as they detailed the efforts by Trump and his allies to spread the unfounded fraud claims after the 2020 election. A mob of Trump supporters who believed the election was stolen stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, forcing lawmakers to flee as they confirmed Biden’s Electoral College victory.

Since leaving office, Trump has continued to falsely claim that the election was rigged and stolen from him. He has not ruled out running for president in 2024.

Barr met with the president within the White House in late November 2020, after the election, the previous attorney general said. Trump said at that meeting there was “major fraud’ and “as soon because the facts were out, the outcomes of the election can be reversed.” Then, Barr said, Trump claimed the Department of Justice doesn’t think it has a task in investigating the fraud claims.

Barr said he defended the DOJ’s neutrality on the meeting, noting to Trump that the DOJ “doesn’t take sides in elections” and that the “department is not an extension of your legal team.”

Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner and the president’s then-chief of staff Mark Meadows spoke with Barr after that gathering. The 2 suggested to Barr that they were convinced Trump was coming around to the concept that the election was lost, in accordance with the previous attorney general.

Yet, days later, Trump went on Fox News and ripped the Department of Justice, suggesting more unproven cases of election fraud.

“I used to be somewhat demoralized, because I believed, boy, if he really believes these items, he has lost contact with — he’s turn out to be detached from reality if he really believes these items,” Barr explained in describing Trump’s continued stance on the election.

After Barr’s comments to the AP, Trump met together with his attorney general on the White House again and repeated his false claims of election fraud.

It was there, in accordance with Barr, that the attorney general told the president that the “claims of fraud were bulls—-.” Barr reiterated that they “wasted an entire month on the Dominion voting machines they usually were idiotic claims.”

— CNBC’s Kevin Breuninger contributed to this story.

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