Former Attorney General William Barr blamed President Donald Trump for questioning the results of the 2020 presidential election and stoking fear about vote integrity, both which “precipitated” the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol building, he said.
In his first interview since the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Barr was asked by the United Kingdom’s ITV News global security editor Rohit Kachroo whether he believed “the debate about the integrity of the election was the final straw.”
Barr replied: “I think that that was the thing that precipitated the riots on the Hill. Now, I think it’s always important to remember that most people are exercising their First Amendment rights, but there’s a substantial group, obviously, that went far beyond that and broke into the Capitol and tried to interfere with the proceedings, and that’s unacceptable,” Barr said.
The protesters’ actions that day were “despicable,” Barr said, and Trump should have moved “very quickly to disperse that crowd.”
“Regardless of which side of the political spectrum is involved, we just cannot tolerate violence interfering with the processes of government,” Barr added.
Asked whether Trump directly incited the violence at the Capitol, Barr said he would allow the investigators to make that conclusion.
“I’ll leave it to the people who are looking into the genesis of this to say whether incitement was involved. I don’t know if I’d use the word ‘inevitable,’ but I think that when you start suppressing free speech, when people lose confidence in the media, and also when they lose faith in the integrity of elections, you’re going to have some people resort to violence,” Barr explained.
Barr was one of several top Trump allies to condemn the president immediately after the Capitol riot.
In a statement released that day, Barr said Trump’s “conduct” was “a betrayal of his office and supporters.”