Bill Barr, the one-time attorney general, said over the weekend that he would be willing to testify against his former boss, Donald Trump, in the latest federal indictment handed down against the former president.
Appearing on CBS News on Sunday, Barr said the indictment handed down against Trump over his efforts to interfere in the 2020 presidential election is “legitimate.” He also quickly shoved aside the claims that the legal team representing Trump are putting forth that the statements the former president made regarding the 2020 election were protected by his rights under the First Amendment.
As Barr said on the “Face the Nation” program on CBS News:
“It’s certainly a challenging case, but I don’t think it runs afoul of the First Amendment. From a prosecutor’s standpoint, I think it’s a legitimate case.”
When asked if he would testify in that case against Trump if he were called by the prosecution to do so, he said “of course.” CBS News specifically asked Barr whether he cooperated with the investigation that was conducted by Jack Smith, the special counsel, that eventually led to Trump’s indictment, but he didn’t answer that directly.
Despite his belief that this case against the former president is a legitimate one, he has said in the past that it would be a challenging one for the Department of Justice at the same time. In June, he said:
“The January 6 case will be a hard case to make because of First Amendment interest.”
Those interests are exactly what Trump’s legal team is relying on to make their case. On Sunday, Barr referred directly to that when he said:
“There’s a lot of confusion out there. This involved a situation where the states had already made the official authoritative determinations … sent the votes and certified them to Congress.
“The allegation essentially by the government has been at that point, the president conspired, entered into a scheme that involved a lot of deceit, the object of which was to erase those votes.”
Barr further explained that in making their case for conspiracy – which is included in the four charges levied against Trump in the indictment – the prosecutors don’t just focus on Trump himself and the claims of election fraud that he was making. Instead, they also have to focus on the procedural machinations that put it all into motion.
As the former attorney general explained:
“You have to remember, a conspiracy crime is completed at the time it’s agreed to and first steps are taken. That’s it.”
In other words, the simple planning and first steps toward executing that plan are enough to bring a charge of conspiracy – as long as what they were conspiring to do was actually a crime, of course.
John Lauro, one of Trump’s lawyers in the case, said over the weekend during a CNN appearance that everything Trump did was legal. He said:
“All of this played out in the open. It’s all free speech. There was a Supreme Court decision, Hammerschmidt, which is right on point that says when you’re exercising free speech, you’re not engaging in a fraud on the government.”