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Former Attorney General Bill Barr said vying for Donald Trump’s focus in the White House was like ‘wrestling an alligator’ during a Sunday television interview.
He told NBC’s Meet the Press that he and other Cabinet secretaries had to compete with the former president’s ‘yes-men’ to keep him ‘on track’ while he led the country.
However the ex-Justice Department chief admitted that he believed ‘a lot of American people’ would prefer Trump’s leadership to President Joe Biden’s — despite criticizing the Republican’s behavior after the 2020 election both in his book and during his numerous recent public appearances.
Barr has sat down for a slew of interviews over the last week to promote the release of his new memoir, One Damn Thing After Another, about his time in the Trump administration.
‘He tends to surround himself with people who will tell him what he wants to hear. Before the election, you know, he cast his net broadly and talked to a lot of people and Cabinet secretaries, all of us frequently had to wrestle with him to accomplish things that we thought would keep him on track. And we were successful generally, but it was a — it was frequently like wrestling an alligator,’ Barr recalled.
It was after Trump lost the 2020 race that Barr claimed he turned even more inward, only trusting his confidantes outside of the White House — perhaps a thinly veiled shot at ex-Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
Barr has criticized Giuliani over his 2020 election fraud conspiracies on more than one occasion.
The former attorney general has been a popular face on news television programs while he’s been promoting his new memoir One Damn Thing After Another, about Barr’s time in the Trump White House
‘After the election, he would just listen to this group of people who had no government position but were telling him exactly what he wanted to hear, and he’s ultimately to blame for that,’ he explained.
‘But there’s something about him that he, you know, wants to be surrounded by yes men — on the outside of government.’
Barr claimed he even told Trump that he’d lose the election back in April of 2020 — but was ‘surprised’ how close the final count was against Biden.
‘I felt for a long time that he was going to lose the election. I went in in April and told him that I thought he was going to lose the election,’ he said.
He attributed Trump’s eventual loss to ‘his obnoxious behavior’ which resulted in ‘turning off key blocks of voters.’
‘And on election night, I felt he was going to lose. And I was actually surprised it was as close as it was,’ Barr added.
As he’s done in previous interviews, however, Barr refused to rule out supporting Trump in a potential 2024 bid — claiming progressives and Biden were both worse options.
Meet the Press host Chuck Todd pressed the ex-attorney general on his apparent unwillingness to completely denounce Trump.
Barr said ‘a lot of American people right now’ would prefer Donald Trump to Joe Biden — despite repeatedly expressing concern about the former president’s stability and temperament
He said the situation ‘sort of shocked a lot of people because you spend a lot of time in your books painting this person as unfit for office.’
‘And making it clear that he, himself, that he’s got temperamental issues, he’s got character issues, and yet you would risk that again over Joe Biden?’ Todd pressed.
Barr replied: ‘Well, I think there’re a lot of American people right now that might prefer having him back in office than what we see under Biden.’
The news anchor turned up the heat, attempting to corner Barr into a straight answer multiple times.
‘But I’m talking about you, you’ve had firsthand account. You saw it up close,’ he said.
Barr answered that elections were a ‘binary choice.’
‘And unfortunately sometimes it’s choosing the lesser of two evils. I believe that the progressive wing of the Democratic Party is dangerous for the United States,’ he claimed.
In another NBC interview early last week, the ex-law enforcement official said there was ‘simply no evidence’ the last presidential race was ‘stolen’ from Trump — though he left the door open to voting for him again should the former president run in 2024.
‘I’ve certainly made it clear, I don’t think he should be our nominee, and I’m going to support somebody else for the nominee,’ Barr began.
But, he added, ‘because I believe the greatest threat for the country is the progressive agenda pushed by the Democratic Party, it is inconceivable to me that I wouldn’t vote for the Republican nominee.’
NBC Today host Savannah Guthrie pushed him, ‘So, even if he lied about the election and threatened democracy, as you write in your book, better than a Democrat?’
‘It’s hard to project what the facts are going to turn out to be three years hence. But as of now, it’s hard to conceive I wouldn’t vote for the Republican nominee.’
However, he admitted on CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper on Friday that he thought Trump could lead the GOP to defeat.
‘I think the Republicans can win a decisive majority, but I don’t think we can do it with Trump,’ he said. ‘He’s just too divisive a candidate.’
The former president held a campaign-style rally in Florence, South Carolina on Saturday in support of two primary candidates challenging incumbent Republican lawmakers.
Trump dropped a hint that he may run for the White House again in 2024 — but stopped short of announcing it, as he’s done multiple times in recent months.
‘In 2024 we are going to take back that beautiful, beautiful White House. I wonder who will do that. I wonder, I wonder,’ he said.