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DOJ near having evidence to indict Trump, but shouldn’t do it

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Former Attorney General William Barr said Wednesday he thinks the Department of Justice is “getting very close” to having the evidence to indict Donald Trump — but hopes the agency declines to charge the ex-president.

Barr, who served under Trump, again criticized a judge’s order authorizing a so-called special master to review the 1000’s of documents that the FBI seized last month in a raid of Trump’s Florida home Mar-a-Lago.

Barr said that two major issues within the case over these materials — a lot of which bore classification markings — are whether the DOJ could make a case to charge Trump, and whether it should.

“Will the federal government give you the chance to make out a technical case, will they’ve evidence by which — that they may indict anyone on, including him?” Barr said in a Fox News interview, his third appearance on the network in five days.

“That is the first query, and I believe they’re getting very near that time, frankly,” said Barr, who led the Justice Department from early 2019 until the ultimate months of the Trump administration.

“But I believe at the tip of the day, there’s one other query, [which] is do you indict a former president? What’s going to that do to the country, what type of precedent will that set, will the people really understand that this just isn’t, you already know, failing to return a library book, that this was serious,” Barr said.

“And so you might have to fret about those things, and I hope that those kinds of things will incline the administration to not indict him, because I don’t need to see him indicted as a former president,” Barr said.

“But I also think they’ll be under quite a lot of pressure to indict him, because — one query is, look, if anyone else would have gotten indicted, why not indict him?” he added.

Barr also said he hopes the DOJ appeals the ruling from federal Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee. Cannon authorized the appointment of a special master to review seized materials for private items and records which can be protected by executive privilege.

The ruling, which Trump’s lawyers sought, temporarily blocks the DOJ from reviewing or using the materials it took from Mar-a-Lago within the Aug. 8 raid.

“The issue I even have with the special master is what she’s done on what’s called executive privilege documents. And she or he didn’t address the one query that is in dispute, which is, can the previous president have standing to say that the investigators don’t even get to have a look at the classified documents that he wrongfully had at Mar-a-Lago,” he said.

“She dodges it, after which she says she’s bringing in a special master to have a look at whether stuff is executive privilege or not. That is not what the dispute is,” Barr said. “I hope it’s appealed.”

A day earlier on Fox, Barr called Cannon’s ruling “deeply flawed in a variety of ways.” But he said it doesn’t change “the elemental dynamics of the case,” that are that “documents were taken, classified information was taken and never handled appropriately, they usually are looking into and there’s some evidence to suggest that they were deceived.”

Spokespeople for Trump and the DOJ didn’t immediately reply to CNBC’s requests for comment.

In one other Fox interview Friday, Barr said he doubted Trump’s claims that the documents taken from Mar-a-Lago were declassified, calling it “highly improbable.”

But when Trump indeed “stood over scores of boxes, probably not knowing what was in them and said, ‘I hereby declassify every little thing in here,’ that may be such an abuse and that shows such recklessness that it’s almost worse than taking the documents,” Barr said.

After that appearance, Trump slammed Barr in two social media posts, calling him “a weak and pathetic RINO” who “began off OK as A.G., but faded fast.”

Trump’s posts attacked Barr for his handling of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian meddling within the 2016 election, saying the DOJ must have released the contents of a laptop containing damaging information on President Joe Biden’s son Hunter before the 2020 election.

Trump also wrote that Barr “never fought the way in which he must have for Election Integrity,” an apparent reference to Barr’s refusal to back Trump’s false claims that his 2020 loss to Biden was rigged through widespread fraud.

Barr said in his Tuesday appearance on Fox that to Trump, a RINO is “anyone who disagrees with him that the election was stolen.”

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