The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Barr says Trump was ‘responsible in the broad sense’ for Jan. 6 riot

President Donald Trump and Attorney General William P. Barr at the White House in 2019. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Former attorney general William P. Barr said in an interview broadcast Friday that he believes that former president Donald Trump is “responsible in the broad sense of that word” for what transpired at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, when a violent mob interrupted Congress’s count of electoral college votes.

“I do think he was responsible in the broad sense of that word in that it appears that part of the plan was to send this group up to the Hill,” Barr said in an interview with NBC News. “I think the whole idea was to intimidate Congress, and I think that that was wrong.”

Barr’s comments were part of an interview with anchor Lester Holt that the network plans to air in full on Sunday. Excerpts were aired Thursday and Friday morning.

During Barr’s tenure at the Justice Department, he was widely viewed as an ally of Trump. But the two had a falling out over Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election, according to Barr, who stepped down in December 2020 and is now promoting a new book.

Trump has repeatedly denied responsibility for the Jan. 6 insurrection, blaming congressional leaders, among others, for not adequately securing the Capitol complex.

Jan. 6 committee alleges Trump, allies engaged in potential ‘criminal conspiracy’ by trying to block Congress from certifying election

In a statement Friday, Trump continued to repeat his false claims of election fraud.

“Former Attorney General Bill Barr wouldn’t know voter fraud if it was staring him in the face—and it was,” Trump said. “The fact is, he was weak, ineffective, and totally scared of being impeached, which the Democrats were constantly threatening to do.”

In a court filing Thursday, the House select committee investigating the attack on the Capitol asserted that Trump and key allies engaged in potential crimes during their effort to overturn the election by conspiring to defraud the United States and obstructing an official congressional proceeding.

During a speech near the White House ahead of the rioting, Trump urged his supporters to go to the Capitol to send members of Congress a message and suggested he would accompany them.

In a statement Thursday, Trump took a shot at Barr, saying he has been “afraid to even look” at his claims of election fraud.

NBC said that Trump provided a statement in response to its interview of Barr in which Trump called Barr’s book “fake” and described Barr as a “coward,” a “big disappointment” and “lazy.”