Former Attorney General Bill Barr said Friday he believes the federal government has enough evidence to indict former President Donald Trump based on the sensitive documents they retrieved from his Mar-a-Lago by the FBI in August.
Barr told PBS’ ‘Firing Line’ host Margaret Hoover that the Justice Department ‘probably have the evidence’ to ‘legitimately’ charge Trump in relation to the document’s content.
Trump recently admitted to transporting the documents from the White House to his Florida home, but argued he was allowed to because they’re ‘personal,’ though Barr seemingly disagrees.
Barr said he ‘thinks they probably were’ sensitive documents, which opens up the former President to a litany of potential charges.
If prosecutors can ‘show that the president consciously was involved in misleading the department, deceiving the government, and playing games after he had received the subpoena for the documents, those are serious charges,’ said Barr.
Barr has served as United States Attorney General twice, first in the early 90’s in George H. W. Bush’s administration, and then again for the Trump Administration.
Bill Barr, former President Donald Trump’s Attorney General, said he thinks the federal government have enough evidence against Trump to charge him
Trump admitted to transporting sensitive documents from the White House to his Florida home, but he says the documents are ‘personal’ and he cannot be charged for them
This image included in a Department of Justice court filing shows a photograph of documents seized during the August 8 FBI search of Mar-a-Lago
While he admitted he was ‘speculating,’ he admitted ‘I think they probably have the evidence that would check the box’ for charges.
He also added he doesn’t think Trump should run for President again in 2024 as he ‘failed’ his first term, thought Trump recently announced his candidacy.
‘He failed. He didn’t do what the whole country hoped – that he would rise to the occasion and rise to the office, and he didn’t do that,’ Barr said.
On Monday, a newly unsealed filing from Trump’s legal team argued that the Presidential Records Act is ‘clear’ and that a ‘president determines whether a document constitutes a Presidential record or a personal record.’
Trump’s lawyers also argued that it was clear the records were ‘personal’ pointing to what documents Trump took – however that portion of the court document was redacted for public viewing.
The DOJ hit back in their own filing arguing that Trump ‘may not designate records qualifying as ‘Presidential records’ under the Presidential Records Act … as his ‘personal records’ simply by saying so’ or ‘simply by the act of removing them from the White House.’
The government’s lawyers said that neither the written law nor judicial precedent gave Trump ‘the ability to ignore the statute by removing Presidential records from the White House, retaining them (without authorization) in a personal storage space, and then deem[ing] them to be personal.’
The newly unsealed filings by the Justice Department and Trump’s lawyers were made to Judge Raymond Dearie, an independent arbiter named to review the seized documents to consider whether any should be walled off from investigators.
The department’s filing stated that Trump is claiming privilege over 122 documents taken in the federal raid of Mar-a-Lago in early August.
Former President Donald Trump took around 11,000 documents to Mar-a-Lago when he was President, prompting the FBI to seize them
Prosecutors wrote that they should then be allowed access to nearly 2,800 other papers that they are currently blocked from reviewing as part of their investigation.
Under federal law, a president can retain personal records after leaving office, but these must be unrelated to official work.
The Justice Department has said that about 100 pages of the roughly 11,000 seized records are marked as classified, and other court filings show that government records were mixed in with items such as media clippings.
If Dearie, a so-called special master named to conduct a review of items taken in the search, decides the papers are not personal, Trump’s lawyers said Dearie should instead find that they are covered by executive privilege – still keeping them away from investigators.
That legal doctrine allows a president to keep certain documents or information secret.
The department said Trump cannot assert executive privilege over any documents he has claimed as personal records because any such records must be unrelated to official duties.
‘The Special Master should not indulge this type of gamesmanship,’ prosecutors wrote.
Prosecutors are looking into whether Trump broke federal law by taking the records and also whether he obstructed the investigation into the missing papers.
Barr also added he doesn’t think Trump should run for President again in 2024 as he ‘failed’ his first term, thought Trump recently announced his candidacy
Former President Donald Trump was recently awarded the Theodor Herzl Gold Medallion at the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) Gala
Two weeks after the search, Trump filed a civil lawsuit in an effort to delay the investigation and keep some records from investigators by asking a judge to appoint a special master to conduct a review on whether any should be deemed privileged.
District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, named Dearie to the role.
Trump has stated on social media, without offering evidence, that he declassified all of the records and that the FBI may have planted evidence.
Trump’s attorneys have not made such arguments in any official court filings.
The Justice Department is appealing Cannon’s decision to appoint a special master, telling the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals she overstepped her authority and that her ruling harmed the investigation.
Trump’s legal team on Thursday filed papers arguing that Dearie’s review should move forward.
Cannon initially barred the department from using all of the seized records for its criminal investigation until Dearie’s review is complete.
The 11th Circuit then reversed a portion of Cannon’s order, ruling that she erred by blocking the department from accessing the classified materials for its investigation.