Donald Trump continues to face renewed criticism and backlash from prominent Republicans, including people who served in his administration, with former attorney general William Barr saying the former president is “obviously” incapable to unite the GOP.
Trump has faced growing backlash from top Republicans and conservative media following the 2022 midterm elections, which saw many of the most important and crucial GOP candidates he has approved losing to their Democratic opponents. An analysis by The New York Times showed that Trump’s endorsement averaged a 5-point penalty in home runs.
Barr, in an interview aired Friday by PBS News, said Trump had “failed” and should “stand aside” for other GOP politicians to push the party forward.
“He failed. He didn’t do what the whole country was hoping for – that he would rise to the occasion and rise to office, and he didn’t,” said the former Trump’s attorney general.
“So he got his chance,” continued Barr, who led Trump’s Justice Department from February 2019 to December 2020. “He clearly doesn’t have the qualities to unite the party, which is the first step on his way home, and he should stay away.”
Although Barr was widely considered one of Trump’s most loyal and effective cabinet members, he easily debunked the former president’s lies about the 2020 election. The former attorney general showed a willingness to criticize Trump since leaving office, but also speaks favorably of the former president’s policies.
While Trump and many of his allies continue to make baseless claims that President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory was fraudulent, Barr has repeatedly called those claims “bullshit.” He has said in interviews and under oath that he provided this information directly to Trump before stepping down in December 2020.
Barr also commented in his Friday interview on ongoing investigations into Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents, as well as its links to the violent attack targeting the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
“Given what happened, I think they probably have the evidence that would tick the box,” he said. “They have the deal.” The former Trump administration official added that it is “increasingly likely” that his former boss will be impeached.
Previously, Barr told CBS News in August that the evidence against Trump was “building.” He also defended a controversial FBI raid on former President Mar-a-Lago’s vacation home, as many conservatives criticized the action of federal law enforcement.
Trump has publicly attacked Barr on several occasions. In September, he described his former attorney general as a “weak and pathetic RINO”, an acronym meaning “Republican in name only”. Newsweek contacted Trump press representatives to comment on Barr’s new PBS interview.
On Friday, other former Trump administration officials apparently punched Trump at the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) event in Las Vegas. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Republicans don’t need “celebrity.”
“The American people didn’t want to look back, they wanted to look forward. They care about what happens tomorrow, not what happened yesterday,” Pompeo said.
Trump’s former Vice President Mike Pence also spoke at the event, reiterating the importance of upholding his oath to the Constitution. Prior to the Jan. 6 riot, Trump and his allies urged Pence to unconstitutionally reject election results from several key states in a joint session of Congress. Pence refused, prompting death threats from Trump supporters and a backlash from his boss.
“Our party is perhaps the last line of defense for the Constitution of the United States,” Pence said in Las Vegas. “The American people should know that our party stands by its oath to the Constitution even when political expediency may suggest we do otherwise.”
Several polls of GOP voters after this year’s midterm elections suggest Trump’s support may be waning. While some still show Trump leading the pack of potential Republican presidential candidates in 2024, multiple polls now show Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as the frontrunner.
Trump formally announced on Tuesday his intention to run for president again in 2024. No other GOP candidate has made such an announcement, but DeSantis, Pompeo, Pence and a number of other top Republicans are expected to broadly assess the ability to launch campaigns.