Shortly before he left the Trump administration, former Attorney General Bill Barr became “demoralized” by the extent to which the 45th president believed he had been cheated out of the 2020 election — telling the House select committee investigating last year’s Capitol riot that Trump was “detached from reality.”
During Monday’s public hearing, the second held by the panel this month, Barr amounted to a star witness against his former boss, whom the ex-AG also blasted as the “weak element” of the Republican electoral slate.
In a clip from his videotaped deposition, Barr recalled a Dec. 14, 2020 meeting with Trump in which the then-president presented him with a report on purported fraud perpetrated with the help of Dominion voting machines.
“I sat there flipping through the report and looking through it, and, to be frank, it looked very amateurish to me,” Barr recalled, later adding: “And I was demoralized because, oh, boy, if he believes this stuff, he has lost contact — he’s become detached from reality if he really believes this stuff.”
“And on the other hand,” Barr added, “you know, when I went into this and would tell him how crazy some of these allegations were, there was never an indication of interest in what the actual facts were.”
That same day, Barr resigned from the Trump administration, a decision which took effect nine days later.
Much of Monday’s two-hour hearing was spent rehashing efforts by Trump’s campaign aides, administration officials and other supporters to convince him that the 2020 election outcome was legitimate.
In addition to Barr, the committee also played clips of Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien — who was supposed to appear in person Monday, but was excused after his wife went into labor — recalling that he warned Trump not to declare victory if the early results showed him leading Joe Biden on election night.
“My belief, my recommendation was to say that votes were still being counted, it’s too early to tell, too early to call the race,” Stepien said in his recorded testimony.
Trump, however, “thought I was wrong. He told me so,” Stepien recounted.
Instead, the 45th president told the nation that “frankly, we did win this election.” His campaign aides said the brash statement was inspired by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who former Trump campaign strategist Jason Miller described as being “definitely intoxicated” on election night.
Giuliani issued a general denial on Monday, rejecting “all falsehoods” he said were being said about him.
In the second hour of the hearing, the focus moved to Trump’s claims of voter fraud in a handful of key states, most notably Georgia and Pennsylvania.
Again, the focus was on Barr’s deposition, in which he dismissed Trump’s claim of widespread cheating in Philadelphia as “rubbish.”
“The turnout in Philadelphia was in line with the state’s turnout,” Barr said. “And, in fact, it was not as impressive as many suburban counties. There was noting strange about the Philadelphia turnout.”
If Trump wanted an “obvious explanation” for his defeat in the Keystone State, Barr added, he only needed to look in the mirror.
“In Pennsylvania, Trump ran weaker than the Republican ticket generally,” the former attorney general said. “He ran weaker than two of the [statewide] candidates, he ran weaker than the congressional delegation…”
“He generally was a weak element on the Republican ticket,” Barr continued. “So that does not suggest the election was stolen by fraud.”
Prominent GOP election attorney Benjamin Ginsberg told the select committee that the “basic problem” the Trump campaign had with their election challenges was that the 2020 vote was “not close.”
“In 2000, that was 537 [votes] close [in Florida],” he said. “In this election, the most narrow [state] margin was 10,000-something in Arizona, and you just don’t make up those sorts of numbers in recounts.”
Committee member Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) who oversaw Monday’s presentation, also accused Trump and his die-hard backers of swindling supporters who thought they were supporting bona fide legal cases.
In another video presentation, committee senior investigative counsel Amanda Wick detailed that Trump and his allies raised $250 million off his claim the 2020 election was stolen, with $100 million coming in the first week after Election Day.
However, Wick added, most of the funds were not directed toward “election-related litigation,” but the former president’s newly created Save America PAC.
Most notably, $5 million of that money went to pay Event Strategies, the firm which helped organize the Jan. 6, 2021 ‘Stop The Steal’ rally that precipitated the Capitol riot.
“Not only was there the big lie,” Lofgren said, “there was the big rip-off. Donors deserve to know where their funds are really going. They deserve better than what President Trump and his team did.”
House Republicans mocked the proceedings on Twitter, suggesting Democrats’ time would be better spent focusing on the country’s ongoing economic struggles.
“Instead of focusing on the economy and other issues that are negatively impacting every single American, Democrats remain focused on their partisan witch-hunt,” tweeted Stephanie Bice (R-Okla.).
Another Republican source declined to respond to Monday’s hearing, telling The Post when asked for reaction: “It was boring.”