Bill Barr: ‘I can’t think of a legitimate reason’ why Trump had these classified documents

Bill Barr: ‘I can’t think of a legitimate reason’ why Trump had these classified documents

Bill Barr appeared on Fox News today and what he had to say is already trending on Twitter. The whole interview doesn’t appear to be on YouTube yet but Justin Baragona from the Daily Beast has posted it in segments on Twitter.

First up, Barr was asked about the pending decision to appoint a special master to review the seized documents. Barr did allow that any private communications between Trump and his attorney need to be sorted out but said he mostly saw it as a “red herring” since it appears the documents have already been reviewed by the DOJ.

The next question was more basic. John Roberts asked, “Is there any legitimate reason for those materials to be in the former president’s possession?” Barr replied, “No. I can’t think of a legitimate reason why they should have been, could be taken away from the government if they’re classified.” Barr was  added that he was skeptical of the claim that Trump declassified everything and added that if he did so without considering the individual documents that would be reckless. (2nd clip below).

Finally, Barr was asked about the timeline of the raid. Was it really necessary to search the house or could they have gotten hold of the documents through some less intrusive means? Barr said the answer to that question would ultimately depend on two things. First, what was the classified material at Mar-a-Lago and second how “raw” is the evidence there was obstruction to previous attempts to claim the documents. Barr said he didn’t have any inside information but that his guess was the DOJ had a pretty good case for obstruction.

In the end he brought it back to the question of why the documents were there in the first place. “I think the driver on this from the beginning was loads of classified information sitting in Mar-a-Lago. People say this was unprecedented, well it’s also unprecedented for a president to take all this classified information and put ’em in a country club, ok.”

“How long are they going to try to get that back? You know they jawboned for a year. They were deceived on the voluntary actions taken. They then went and got a subpoena. They were deceived on that, they feel, and the facts are starting to show that they were being jerked around.”

(2nd clip below)

This isn’t really new ground for Bill Barr who has been saying Trump lost the election since December 2020 and who has even said Trump was “detached from reality.” Still, he seems to be getting some strange new respect from the left.

There are plenty of critics who still blame him for releasing that summary of the Mueller report they didn’t feel was harsh enough. They’re not ready to forgive even if they like what he’s saying now.

I was very skeptical of the FBI raid early on and still don’t have much trust for them or the DOJ at this point. That said, I think Barr is basically correct that weeks into this we haven’t seen any legitimate reason for Trump having these documents at his home. Even if there was a reason initially (a packing mistake, etc.), there’s no reason for him not returning the files the first few times he was asked (and subpoenaed). Given the number of classified documents involved, it’s just not credible that his attorneys looked through these boxes and somehow missed them. I guess you could argue they were just incompetent but then that would also probably justify the search warrant.

Honestly, the best explanation I’ve seen for Trump’s behavior here is this one from a reporter who interviewed him once:

When I interviewed candidate Trump in early 2016 aboard his private 757, the pile of disorganized paper on his desk made a striking contrast to the pristine white leather seats and gold-colored hardware. An even larger mess rode in the seat next to him — thousands of pages in all…

As the plane lifted its nose into the air, gravity pulled at the paper, and — as Trump muttered an expletive and tried in vain to stop it — the heap spilled fries-first into his lap…

When he had managed to reconstruct the mountain and dispose of the waffle fries, Trump blamed the chaos on a disembodied group of tormentors he referred to as “they.” “They want me to look at documents,” he explained. But that made no sense. The world’s fastest reader could not plow through Trump’s mess in the time he would spend on his plane that day, nor would any half-competent “they” believe that the way to bring attention to a document is to bury it among reams of unrelated flotsam.

Indeed, Trump did not read anything from the paper piles. Several times during the flight he plucked a news clipping or report seemingly at random from the stack and peered at it with a puzzled look. Then he tossed it back onto the pile.

He concluded that for Trump the pile of paper was a kind of prop, an indication of how important he was and how much responsibility he had. The point wasn’t to do anything with it, the point was to have a mountain of it around to impress others. Maybe that’s all this was really about.

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