Former President Donald Trump’s former Attorney General Bill Barr broke with the GOP narrative Sunday to say the government acted responsibly in its indictment of the former president.
Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Barr said the contents of the indictment were “very, very damming.”
“If even half of it’s true, then he’s toast,” Barr said.
— Fox News Sunday (@FoxNewsSunday) June 11, 2023
The indictment, unsealed Friday, included 38 counts against Trump and former aid Walt Nauta—31 against Trump for withholding national defense information, five against both for hiding their possession of classified documents, and one each for lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigators.
In response to the indictment, Trump remained defiant in two speeches at Republican state conventions in Georgia and North Carolina Saturday, calling the charges “baseless” and “ridiculous,” as The Associated Press reported.
“They’ve launched one witch hunt after another to try and stop our movement, to thwart the will of the American people,” Trump said in Georgia.
However, Barr said Sunday that casting the indictment as a witch hunt was itself “ridiculous.”
“Yes, he’s been a victim in the past. Yes, his adversaries have obsessively pursued him with phony claims, and I’ve been at his side defending against them when he is a victim,” he said. “But this is much different. He’s not a victim here.”
Barr added that the former president was “totally wrong that he had the right to have those documents.”
“Those documents are among the most sensitive secrets that the country has, they have to be in the custody of the archivist, he had no right to maintain them and retain them, and he kept them in a way, at Mar-a-Lago, that anyone who really cares about national security, their stomach would turn at it.”
New Hampshire Republican Gov. Chris Sununu also took the indictment seriously.
“They’re very real, they’re self-inflicted,” he told Face The Nation Sunday. “This is nothing like anything we’ve seen before.”
He added that it was “very likely” the former president would be found guilty “at least on some of these charges.”
Sununu also said he thought the rest of the GOP primary candidates vying to run for president in 2024 had a responsibility to make a statement on the indictment.
“They have to come out and acknowledge this is different, this is serious,” he said, adding that it had to come from the party as a whole.
“Donald Trump doesn’t represent the Republican Party,” he said. “He only represents himself.”
Whether Republican voters agree is another question. According to a CBS poll released Sunday, 80% of U.S. respondents said that it was a national security risk for Trump to retain nuclear and military documents. However, only 38% of likely GOP primary voters agree. Instead, 76% of these voters think the indictment was politically motivated.
Trump himself has pledged to stay in the race, even if convicted.
“I’ll never leave,” he told Politico in an interview on his plane Saturday.