OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
Former Attorney General William Barr once offered up scathing criticism of his old boss, Donald Trump, in remarks to a podcast on Thursday.
Barr said he was getting “tired” of the “constant pandering” on the right over the outrage stemming from the FBI’s raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate earlier this month, which is being viewed as highly political in nature by the former president’s supporters.
In an appearance on Bari Weiss’s “Honestly” podcast, Barr defended the Justice Department’s ongoing probe of Trump while acknowledging that fallout from the ‘Russian collusion’ hoax “created the condition” of the many Americans automatically thinking “the worst” of the agency and the FBI it oversees.
“So what do you say to conservatives who say, ‘Why should we possibly trust these institutions to prosecute people — let’s say who protested on January 6th or agents of the state going after a president they so obviously despise? Why should we trust them anymore?’” Weiss asked. “You still give them the benefit of the doubt, but many other people in your party don’t.”
“Well, the Russiagate thing, I think, to the extent the FBI was misused was decisions made toward by high-level officials in the FBI. I don’t think that Chris Wray is that type of leader nor do I think the people around Chris Wray are those types of leaders,” Barr answered. “I think there are problems in the FBI, but it’s not that. It’s not the Chris Wray. Wray is going to wake up and say, you know, ‘How do I throw the FBI’s weight around to interfere in the political process. Just the opposite. I think he’s very cautious about that.”
Fox News noted further:
Barr acknowledged the DOJ, by and large, is “spotty” when it comes to those who act on a partisan basis versus those who are able to “check [their politics] at the door.”
Weiss, however, called his comments an “unsatisfying answer” to Republicans who continue to distrust the FBI.
“Well, what’s the alternative?” the former AG fired back. “You know, something I’m pretty tired of from- from the Right is the constant pandering to outrage and people’s frustrations. And picking and picking and picking at that sore without trying to channel those feelings in a constructive direction.
“In my opinion, Ronald Reagan was a great populist not because he followed, you know, the frustrated instincts and the outrage of the people that many people who supported him but because he channeled it and was constructive about it,” he added.
“So I always say, you know, what’s the alternative? We have these institutions that need reform. And the first step is to win an election with a decisive majority that allows you to put a program into effect and deal with some of these problems going forward and fix them,” he said. “And that is not done by throwing fuel on the fire of outrage on one side of the equation while the other side does the same thing on their side. That leads to stalemate. And I don’t see anything productive coming out of it. I think we should basically try to persuade people- and I think they’re there.”
He then cited Virginia GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin as an example of someone who could eventually turn the Republican Party into a “majority party.”
Barr, however, saved some of his most critical comments for Trump.
“The problem with Trump is that it’s all about running just the base election, whip up your base, get your base all upset, get them outraged and turn them out at the polls,” Barr told Weiss. “Both sides do that. That is a prescription for a continued hostility within the country and demoralization of the country and an impasse in the country.
“And the first side [to] break out of that by returning–restoring politics to what it should be, which is the politics of trying to capture a majority of the people through persuasion and decisive enough majority to change things–that’s what we should be focused on. And we’re not doing that right now. That’s not Trump’s approach,” he added.