Formal Attorney General Bill Barr says federal grand jury are looking harder at the top, referring to trump

The most recent federal grand jury subpoenas investigating the Jan. 6, 2002, Capitol riot were described as “a significant event” by former Attorney General Bill Barr. This indicates that government prosecutors may be looking into senior Trump administration officials, allies, and even the late President Donald Trump.

In an interview with CBS News’ Catherine Herridge on Friday, Barr said, “This suggests to me that they’re taking a hard look at the group at the top, including the president and the individuals immediately around him who were involved in this.”

The grand jury has been meeting once a week; Marc Short, the former vice president Mike Pence’s chief of staff, testified in late July, and Greg Jacob, Pence’s chief lawyer, was reportedly also questioned by the grand jury, according to The Washington Post.

Although it is not clear from CBS News’ reporting that Trump himself is a target of the investigation, it is clear that prosecutors have been asking questions about him and his advisers. These inquiries are part of the Justice Department’s criminal investigation into what happened on January 6.

Barr also speculates that given reports from ABC News and other media sites that former White House lawyer Pat Cipollone has been summoned to testify before the grand jury, prosecutors “are going to try to gain a finding on the issue of executive privilege.” The former attorney general stated that Cipollone “had the strongest claim to executive authority” because he was the Office of the President’s counsel at the time.

“That’s sort of the biggest mountain for them to climb, and the fact that they lead off with that to me suggests that they want a definitive resolution — not only on Cipollone — but you know, this would affect [former White House chief of staff Mark] Meadows and some of the other people, too,” he said.

While Barr believes that Trump may be able to use the executive privilege defense to preclude certain testimony, he added, “I don’t think it would preclude all the testimony.” He listed several instances where a privilege defense “is inapplicable here.”

He added: “One argument is that it was waived by Biden and will need to be disputed as to whether Biden or Trump can do it.

The courts have thus far rejected the former president’s legal attempts to use privilege claims to protect testimony or records on the grounds that the requests were legitimate and Mr. Biden had the right to waive the privilege.

Barr also emphasized that in criminal situations, presidential privilege is not applicable.

“Another argument they have is that that the criminal justice process, as opposed to Congress — the criminal justice process — executive privilege has to give way — you can’t hide behind it when a criminal grand jury’s involved,” Barr said.

“And then they would have other arguments, like the crime-fraud exception,” Barr told Herridge. “If it’s part of the crime itself, it’s not covered.”

“And and another argument they would have is that some of the particular things weren’t really executive privilege,” Barr said. “The president was acting in his capacity as a candidate, not not the president.”

Barr said, though, that even if the evidence against Trump generally matches what the Jan. 6 committee has uncovered, it probably won’t be enough to convict the former president.

“If this is what there is, as attorney general, I still don’t see it as a sufficient foundation to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed by the president,” he said after the most recent sessions on Jan. 6, even if he believes the evidence has been growing. Barr stated that he thinks the Justice Department is still “going further and deeper into it” and that he will bring charges if Attorney General Merrick Garland discovers a crime.

The former president has made a solid case for his desire to run for office once more in 2024.

Trump is anxious to declare his re-election and would actually prefer to have entered the race “already,” according to Kellyanne Conway, his 2016 campaign manager and former White House advisor, who spoke with Herridge last week.

Barr has high hopes for the Republican Party’s future. He declared, “I think the future is bright for the Republican Party,” implying that the party might even hold the White House for the ensuing 12 years.

“I view 2024 setting up another 1980, where when Reagan won two terms and then Bush won a third term,” he said. It’s what he believes is necessary “to make America great again, you know — decisive victory in reaction to the excesses of the progressive Democrats.”

Barr claims that Trump would not accomplish that. He stated of Trump, “I don’t think he should be the nominee.” “I don’t support him as the nominee because I think it would be incredibly harmful for the party,” she said.

If Trump were to win, he would be a “78-year-old lame duck who’s plainly intent on revenge more than anything else,” in the words of the former attorney general.