Former Attorney General William Barr accused President Donald Trump on Thursday of a “betrayal of his office” — the latest rebuke of the president by a former high-ranking administration official after pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol.
“Orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress is inexcusable,” Barr said in a statement obtained by POLITICO. “The President’s conduct yesterday was a betrayal of his office and supporters.”
Barr’s criticism on Thursday was not his first public comment on the chaos at the Capitol. As the president’s supporters breached the building on Wednesday afternoon, he released a statement through his spokesperson that did not refer to Trump by name.
“The violence at the Capitol Building is outrageous and despicable,” Barr said on Wednesday. “Federal agencies should move immediately to disperse it.”
Lawmakers were forced to shelter in place as both chambers of Congress went into lockdown amid the violence, which resulted in four deaths. The rioters sought to disrupt the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory after Trump had encouraged them to march on the Capitol earlier Wednesday.
“We’re going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them,” Trump told his supporters at a rally outside the White House. “Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”
In that same speech, the president launched fiery attacks on both his political rivals and longtime allies — including Barr, who stepped down from the Justice Department in December and had been criticized as overly loyal to Trump for much of his tenure.
“All of a sudden, Bill Barr changed. You hadn’t noticed,” Trump complained on Wednesday. “I like Bill Barr, but he changed. Because he didn’t want to be considered my personal attorney.”
Josh Gerstein contributed to this report.
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