Attorney General Bill Barr's interview with ABC News: Transcript

Barr spoke Wednesday with ABC News Chief Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas.

ByABC NEWS
July 09, 2020, 3:29 PM

Attorney General William Barr sat down Wednesday for an exclusive and wide-ranging interview with ABC News Chief Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas. The interview was conducted in Columbia, South Carolina, where Barr had gone with GOP Sen. Tim Scott to meet with law enforcement.

PHOTO: ABC's Pierre Thomas interviews Attorney General William Barr, July 8, 2020.
ABC's Pierre Thomas interviews Attorney General William Barr, July 8, 2020.
Luke Barr/ABC News

Here is a transcript.

CORRESPONDENT: PIERRE THOMAS: First of all, thank you. You were here to do some outreach today-- meeting with community leaders, including some African-American leaders and police. So what did you hear from them today?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: Well, I would say the two main messages-- were that-- especially from the African-American community leaders was that they're not interested in defunding the police. If anything, they wanna help propel the professionalization of police, increase training of police-- and also that they're interested in building a stronger connection between the communities and the police. There's a lotta support for community policing. And they wanna see the federal government promote community policing more. There's been a lotta reform in the policing-- sector over the last-- few decades. But as the event in Minneapolis tragically showed-- we need to do more.

PIERRE THOMAS: When you talk with police, what did you hear from them?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: --they're-- they're-- readiness-- to-- and their complete understanding of the need-- to-- to improve training-- to improve standards-- to hold people accountable. And-- you know, a readiness to demonstrate their commitment to making the changes that are necessary.

PIERRE THOMAS: When you spoke with the African-American community-- did they talk about how important the moment is and do you think that George Floyd was the seminal moment that we've seen maybe since the '60s in terms of civil rights issues?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: I hope it is. I hope it is a catalyst for the kind of changes that are needed. I know I was with Senator Tim Scott for the day. And-- he made the comment that-- that this is one of the pivotal-- or should be one of the pivotal moments in civil rights. You know, I think after Jim Crow, up until Jim Crow, obviously our laws did not comport with our-- our-- principles. They were on their face unequal, the laws. Since then, we've been trying to reform our institutions. And bring them in line with our aspirations. I think we-- while we've made a lot of progress we-- if this is a journey that continues.

PIERRE THOMAS: You mentioned defund the police. When we dig into that deeper, many of them-- people who are advocates for it, they're saying they're not talking about taking away money for training or even higher salaries. They're saying some of the money needs to be moved to things like social-- studies and-- and programs like Head Start, mental health services, things like that. Things I think that you've advocated in the police because you said police are asked to do too much. Is there-- is there some value in the notion of defund the police even though you might like-- not like how that word sounds?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: No because I don't think the money should come out of the police. I mean, we've been spending a lot of money, trillions of dollars over the last few decades on things like education and social programs. So there has been a will to s-- will to spend money on those kinds of things. But I think we have to think about more investment in the police. Now part of it, as you say, is that the police are being called on to do more and more. Deal with mental illness, deal with homelessness, d-- deal with drug addiction where they don't have the training and the-- and the-- expertise sometimes to deal with it. So one of the things we've been talking about-- is-- trying to direct the HHS money and grant programs and sync it up with law enforcement spending so we can enable the departments to have what are called co-responders. That is social workers, mental health experts and so forth who can go on certain kinds of calls to help.

PIERRE THOMAS: So to be clear, you're against defunding police, but you're for enhancing some other projects.

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: Yes.

PIERRE THOMAS: Where do you think we are right now in terms of race relations at this moment?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: I-- I think before the-- the George Floyd-- incident I-- I thought we were in-- in-- a good place. I thought that economic opportunities were expanding and the African-American community was able to participate more than ever before in those opportunities. And-- you know, I-- I think that this episode in Mi-- in Minneapolis-- showed that we still have some work to do-- in addressing the distrust that exists in the African-Amerin-- American community toward law enforcement.

PIERRE THOMAS: You know, many African-Americans, they talk about how they're treated as suspects first and citizens second. That they talk about being pulled over constantly by police. It's happened to me in a circumstance where I didn't feel like it was fair. Senator Scott talked about being pulled over seven times in one year.

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: Right.

PIERRE THOMAS: Does that speak to s-- systemic bias in policing? You said you don't think that exists. Are you changing your mind?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: No, I mean, well, the word systemic, I'm not sure whether people means it's built into the system, so the system inherently has this or they mean it's widespread issue. You know, I do think that it is-- a widespread-- phenomenon that-- that-- African-American-- males particularly are treated with extra suspicion and maybe not given the benefit of the doubt.

PIERRE THOMAS: Is that wrong?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: I-- well, I think it is wrong if-- if people are not respected appropriately and tre-- and given their due. And I think it's-- and-- and I think it's something that we have to do address.

PIERRE THOMAS: Now you use the word-- earlier racial profiling. So you-- you believe it does exist.

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: Well, I mean-- again, that's-- that's a word that's used different ways by many people. I-- I do think that-- depending on the area, it's not all over the country. But the-- there are some areas where law enforcement people, white and Black police-- may treat a suspect differently or someone they s-- or be too ready to suspect someone-- based on their race. I mean-- any-- any b-- any person-- you know, doesn't like being singled out in treating-- treated differently. If-- if I go through a air-- airport checkpoint and they pick me out and say, "Okay, now you have to go over here and be searched," you have this feeling of, "What?" It-- it's-- it's-- it's-- it's sort of insulting. And-- extrapolating from that-- you know, I think that that is a phenomenon that it's felt keenly in the African-American community. But I also think this is not-- the A-- I-- I don't think that the-- African-Amen-- American community, you know-- has that as the only view of police.I think they value police and understand how important it is to have the police because these communities are the primary victims of crime. They're the ones who, you know, we have 8,000 homicides of-- African-Americans a year. I mean, that-- that is way out of line. And-- so I think they-- they-- they do want a strong police presence. They wanna build up a stronger relationship with the community.

PIERRE THOMAS: And today-- president made some news and he said that he thinks we're in a culture war. Do you share that belief? You think we're in a culture war?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: Well, I, you know I think we've-- to me this doesn't re-- really relate to the race issue. I think there has been a culture war in the United States for a long time. Using war in the metaphorical sense. But-- I don't view that as connected to the race issue. I think it has more to do with things like religion and traditional religious values and things like that.

PIERRE THOMAS: The context he appeared to be using it and I wanna be-- make sure I'm being accurate and fair to the president, he was saying things like that the-- removing the flags from NASCAR events hurt a lot of people. He-- this week-- retweeted-- something where someone s-- was yelling, "White power." You're down here today and you're making up community outreach. And I spoke to three African-Americans who were in the meeting. And they said that they took you at your word that you were sincere. This kinda rhetoric from the president, is it helpful to what you're trying to do?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: Well, I haven't seen, you know, I haven't seen what the-- the president said. I think what he was likely referring to are-- are th-- you know, some of the things that people would feel were-- and-- and I'm not talking about the NASCAR thing. From my standpoint, NASCAR was a business decision by NASCAR. They're a private corporation-- b-- private business. They're entitled to make a business decision. And-- but, you know, there's some people who feel that some of our history is being erased, you know, when you s-- take George Washington and start defacing George Washington or Christopher Columbus or others. And-- you know, that's upsetting to people. And I would like to see us-- confront our history in the sense of, you know, not-- not-- tearing it down but acknowledging our history and adding to our history.

PIERRE THOMAS: I-- I see what you're saying on George Washington and Christopher l-- Columbus. But, again, coming at this from the African-American perspective of many people-- confederate statues honoring Lee-- Jefferson Davis, people like that, epitomize or symbolize oppression. Slavery-- people being treated like cattle. For example, if you drive down in Northern Virginia where I live you drive down Lee Highway. There's Jefferson Davis Highway. And some of my friends who are African-Americans say to me, "You know, I don't really wanna honor those people. They committed treason and they stood for racism and slavery." Do you think-- are you comfortable with or do you support-- confederate statues from being removed from some of these landscapes?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: Well, I actually think that the way they've handled it here in South C-- Carolina is the appropriate way to do it which is it was a community decision going through the debate, the process and they decided, you know, to change the flag or to-- to remove the flag from the capital grounds that had the old confederate battle flag. And I think the same is true with statues. I think these are decisions that should be made through community discussion and appropriately dealt with-- to reflect the will of the community. But I don't think, you know, mobs should go around tearing down statues.

PIERRE THOMAS: Can you give us a sense of your personal feeling or if you-- if you feel comfortable sharing it? Do you personally like seeing those kinda statues? Would you prefer to see them go down? Confederate soldiers, bases named after people who former members of the KKK. I was looking at some research-- from-- on some of the bases named after southern-- leaders, not the kinda history that anyone would celebrate, one would think.

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: Right. I think-- it-- you know, if I were a king and making up the names of bases there's some people that I probably wouldn't honor. But-- again, I think, you know, it should be left to the community.

PIERRE THOMAS: In terms of pattern and practice investigations-- the department has done one or has been investigating one-- previous three administrations had done about 70. Is that good enough? And are you willing to use that tool in your toolkit?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: Yeah. Well, I mean, I think the Obama administration at a comparable time had done several. We have-- we are right now-- have-- are issuing our findings in-- in one-- Springfield-- Police Department in Massachusetts.

PIERRE THOMAS: And what did you find, sir?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: We found-- in that case it-- there was a drug unit in the Springfield Police Department that-- was engaged in-- a pattern of practice of using excessive force. So-- I believe, as I've said, that-- I'm not adverse to using pattern or practice. I have no-- in-- inhibition about it-- as an enforcement tool. But I also feel that there are other-- sometimes there are other ways of getting at it rather than through using court consent decrease. Sometimes you can work with the police department.

PIERRE THOMAS: In what ways?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: It-- it-- through contracts and other things to-- work with them to improve the particular problem you find without necessarily bringing the courts into it. And that has been successful. I think-- sometimes these consent decrees can drag out for a long time. And, you know, become more of a checklist item versus effectuating real change. At the end of the day, if we think something has to be changed, we're gonna use whatever tool we think is gonna be successful in accomplishing that.

PIERRE THOMAS: Black Lives Matter-- is a term that's being used, it's a group that pushes for civil rights-- of African-Americans. What's-- what's your view of Black Lives Matter? and are you willing to say Black Lives Matter?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: Well, I make a disti-- you know, I'd make a distinction between the organization which I don't agree with, they have-- a broader agenda. But in terms of-- the proposition that B-- Black lives matter, obviously Black lives matter. I think all lives-- all human life is-- is sacred. And-- entitled to-- respect. And-- obviously Black lives matter. But I also think that it's being used now-- in-- in a sort of distorting the debate, to some extent. Because it's used really to refer exclusively to Black lives that are lost to police misconduct which-- are-- you know, have been going down statistically. F-- five your ago there were 40 such incidents. This last year it was ten. So at least it's a positive trajectory there. But then you compare it to 8,000 homicides in-- in the African-American community, those are Black lives that matter too. And those are lives that are protected by the police.

PIERRE THOMAS: Do you think it's a s-- it's a symbol of hate? The president called it a symbol of hate, Black Lives Matter. That strong?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: I-- I don't-- I-- k-- I'd have to see what he said. I don't know what he s— what he said. But I also think, you know, it's not just protecting life. It's-- it's also Black Lives Matter in the sense of-- ensuring that African-Americans-- fully participate-- in-- the benefits of this society and their lives flourish. And I think it goes beyond-- just the physical safety. It goes to getting good education. It goes to having economic opportunities. And they've been-- you know, in this administration-- had record economic-- opportunity with the expansion of the work force. And I think one of the-- I think the civil rights issue of our time, if we're talking about Black lives matter is how about all the-- the Black lives in inner city schools that are failing that people just seem willing to let fail who aren't given a future. I think we need, you know, strong educational reform in this country so that inner city parents are able to choose their children's school. And--

PIERRE THOMAS: And--

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: --and I think that's, as Condi Rice said, the civil rights issue of our time. So I think the Black Lives Matter, you know, is-- has focused on a particular problem. And it is a problem. And it's a problem that at least the trajectory has been improving. And they're ignoring I think these broader issues. I mean, hundreds and hundreds of murders just in the last few weeks in the inner city. No one seems to be talking about that.

PIERRE THOMAS: You made some news recently-- supporting the president's position or concern about mail-in voting. And I've been looking at some data. And we actually called every secretary of state-- in the country, virtually every one. And none of them said that it was a issue that they were concerned about. Why is this a issue that-- you're-- you're concerned about?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: Well-- you know, even during m-- it-- it wasn't me responding to the president's expression of concern. I said when I was going through confirmation I was very concerned about the integrity of elections because I feel we're a very divided country. Election results are close. And the thing we have going for us is confidence in the shift of peaceful transfer of power. So I thought it's very important that we protect people's-- feelings that elections are conducted with integrity. And I think it's clear th-- and by the way, I'm not talking about people are out of town or can't otherwise make it to the poll and having the option of mailing in.

PIERRE THOMAS: Yeah, because you voted--

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: I'm talking--

PIERRE THOMAS: --absentee voting yourself.

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: Well, actually one of those I-- I actually did go to-- to vote. But-- it wasn't by mail. … You know, another area of concern obviously is the potential of undue influence-- that-- that somebody collecting ballots could have on the actual voter. I know in-- in New Jersey, for example-- one TV network found that a number of peoples cast their votes but-- reported to the network that they never received the ballot. So I think there's a lot of opportunity for mischief. And that makes me concerned.

PIERRE THOMAS: But-- but shouldn't we m-- be making it easier for people to vote in a pandemic? People are literally afraid to go to the grocery store. And now this is an option that some people wanna use that secretaries of states say it's a viable one. Are you willing to work with them or are you just against it?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: Well, I think the states have a lot of latitude as to what form of voting they're gonna have. I'm expressing concern over voter fraud. And I d-- do think it increases the opportunity for fraud.

PIERRE THOMAS: Mr. [Roger] Stone is scheduled to report to prison I believe next week, July 13th or 14th. You said earlier in a previous interview that it was a righteous prosecution. You still believe that?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: Yes. He-- he was prosecuted while I was attorney general. I think the prosecution was righteous. And-- I think the sentence that the judge ultimately gave-- was fair. As you recall, I objected to a seven to nine-year sentence which I thought was very excessive and the judge ended up I think effectively agreeing with me and gave him a sentence of three years and--

PIERRE THOMAS: So three--

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: --four months.

PIERRE THOMAS: --years, that's prison time-- that he should get for these crimes. The president tweeted something this weekend-- about pardoning him. It's a possibility he might commute the sentence. Do you recommend that he do-- do that? And will you care if he commutes or pardons Mr. Stone?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: Well, I think it's the president's prerogative.-- it's a unique power that the president has. And it's certainly something that is committed to his judgment. But as I say-- I felt it was-- appropriate prosecution and I thought the sentence was fair.

PIERRE THOMAS: Right. I think you said you're no fan.

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: Did I say that?

PIERRE THOMAS: Yes, you did.

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: Well, that's accurate.

PIERRE THOMAS: Michael Flynn, you basically held that you did not think that that was a righteous prosecution based on the work done by the prosecutor you had look into it and your own review of the facts. But he did lie to the FBI twice, admitted to it in open court twice, I believe. Are you concerned at all about the appearance that president's friends are getting preferential treatment?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR:No because I think-- you say friends plural. I-- in the Stone case-- what I did there was I left the sentencing up to the judge. I didn't advocate for a sentence that I thought was twice what it should be. I thought that was the fair and just thing to do. We left it to the judge and-- and she imposed the sentence that I actually thought was reasonable. So I don't think that was getting special benefit. I think that was him being treated fairly. You certainly don't want someone given special benefits 'cause of the president's friend. But you also don't want them treated more harshly because they're the president's friend. On the Flynn matter-- I had a-- separate council come in, another U.S. attorney, very experienced, and had him look at it. And he came back and said that he didn't think anyone in the department-- would p-- would prosecute that case or charge that case.And in fact-- the documents that have recently been released indicate that the FBI felt that he had not lied. And this was not, as later spun, that they-- he didn't show signs of lying. They said they didn't think he lied. That he believed what he was saying was true. And there are a number of other facts there that-- that-- made us feel that that was not a case that met our standards of prosecution.

PIERRE THOMAS: But why do you think he was so willing to plead guilty in court?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: I don't wanna speculate about that.

PIERRE THOMAS: Mr. [Geoffrey] Berman, former U.S. attorney for the Southern District. He basically made clear-- that he had no intentions of resigning-- he suggested that he was suspicious of you. Why did the statement go out when it-- that made it appear that he was resigning when he, in fact, was not. Was that a miscommunication? Why-- why did that happen I guess is the question.

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: Well, as you know-- this was-- this was not-- a question of removing him because of any deficiency on his part. It was-- the desire to put a very imminent New Yor-- New York lawyer in that position. The president had not appointed anyone as U.S. attorney of-- the southern district of New York which is, as you know, one of the more important districts in the department. And-- the chairman of the SEC who-- people in the administration thought was outstanding-- from an outstanding New York law firm-- said that he was interested in going back up to New York. And it would-- was interested in that position. So we were putting him forward for that position. When I-- and my intent was to try to do this amicably. And-- and I offered other positions to Mr. Berman. But he indicated that he was not going to step down. Now the president gets their choice of who the U.S. attorney is. He didn't wanna leave. But I was trying to-- leave open the possibility of doing this amicably and trying to arrange another position. And we put out a statement that evening that we were gonna nominate somebody else. But we wanted to leave open-- and make it clear to him that he was leaving the position-- but then still leave it open that he could get another position and would be done amicably. So we didn't say he was being fired. We said he was stepping down which is usually the language we use in these-- in these kinds of announcements. But it left open the possibility that once he saw that he was leaving the position-- that he'd be interested in-- in figuring out other alternatives.

PIERRE THOMAS: So he's basically describing in his (UNINTEL) when you t-- you're saying it was a nudge, you're leaving.

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: Well, I don't know what he's describing. I haven't her-- seen what he's said publicly. But-- but it was not-- it was not misleading. Stepping down is a term that we use. It's ambiguous as to what the basis for it is. But it leaves open-- you know, the possibility of following on and offering him another position. I wasn't sure w-- which way he was gonna go. But I--

PIERRE THOMAS: But-- but given the sensitivity of that job and-- certain investigations underway to include the Rudy Giuliani case which-- has been reported-- why now? Could it not have waited until after the election? Or was this something the president wanted you to do at this point?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: Well, I, you know, I-- I certainly-- agreed with the president that this was an outstanding candidate and he was interested in-- in taking a run at it now. And-- I-- I felt that anyone who knows the department knows that-- even if one were interested in trying to influence a case you wouldn't do it by removing-- the head of the office. That's simply not how the-- southern district of New York or the department as a whole operates. So it's actually ludicrous and I felt it was just simply not a plausible basis for not making a change there.

PIERRE THOMAS: So when the Democrats attack you-- and they've been attacking you pretty fiercely on this. But when they say the president wanted a Roy Cohn and that he's got it and that the department is not nearly as independent as it should be, what do you say to that?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: Well, I'd like them to point-- point out, you know, a-- a specific decision that they don't think-- show-- that shows a lot of independence on the department. Now where independence is most important and, in fact, essential is in the administration of criminal justice. The decisions to charge people or not charge people. And-- you know, I'm-- I'd like to hear some examples of people we've charged that they think were unrighteous cases to bring. And-- you know, I-- I haven't seen any specifics on that.

PIERRE THOMAS: I wanna get back to the rise in crime in some of the major cities. New York, Philadelphia, Milwaukee-- you were talking about hundreds of deaths-- in many communities. What are you planning to do about it, sir?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: Well, the president recently said to-- states and cities that the federal government is ready, willing and able to-- to come in and help. We just received the request-- yesterday actually from-- Missouri, the governor of Missouri and the city of Kansas City-- they've had-- a serious spiking in crime, particularly murders. They're on pace to set all records of murders for that city. And so we-- we are going to go in. A four-year-old African-American boy who had recovered recently from open-heart surgery was shot in the face while he was lying in his bed. And his name was Legend. And-- so we're gonna launch Operation Legend in-- in Kansas City. And-- and put in well-over 100-- federal agents-- to augment the-- the agents we already have there working with the state and local to go after the gangs that are responsible for this.

PIERRE THOMAS: So do you-- should we expect to see that in other cities too if they-- if they want the help?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: Very possibly. Yes.

PIERRE THOMAS: And I saw the picture of the little boy. What was the impact on you?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: Well, my daughter had open-heart surgery at a comparable age. And I remember how stressful it was for our family. And the idea of your child surviving that and, you know, the-- the joy you would feel to see your kid pull through something like that and then have them shot in the face, it-- it affected me a lot.

PIERRE THOMAS: And he died.

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: Yes.

PIERRE THOMAS: Ghislaine Maxwell is now in federal custody. Number one, can you ensure that she will make it to trial? Jeffrey Epstein died-- suicide situation. Are you locked in on this to make sure that doesn't happen, sir?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: Yes.

PIERRE THOMAS: You-- can you give me a sense of what you told the people in charge?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: You know, we-- we have asked them to tell us specifically the protocols they're following. And we have a number of-- of-- redundant-- systems to monitor the situation.

PIERRE THOMAS: And-- and how angry were you with the Jeffrey Epstein situation?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: Oh I was-- I was livid, obviously. I believe very strongly in that case. And I was very proud of the work done by the department, the southern district, on that case. And as you will recall-- after he committed suicide I said that I was confident that we would continue to pursue this case vigorously and-- pursue anyone who's complicit in it. And so I'm very happy that we were able to get-- Miss Maxwell.

PIERRE THOMAS: If there are co-conspirators, are you coming for them?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: If-- if they-- if they've been involved-- if they've been in-- complicit in these crimes, yes.

PIERRE THOMAS: And I see where the department wants to talk to Prince Andrew. Do you think it's appropriate and do you wanna talk to him?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: Well, definitely the department wants to talk to Prince Andrew. That's why the southern district has been making efforts to communicate and to arrange interview with him.

PIERRE THOMAS: You want every bit of evidence in connection with that case.

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: Yes.

PIERRE THOMAS: Right now is such a critical moment in terms of perceptions. And June 1st and the way the crowd was removed-- from Lafayette Park-- that area, do you have, in hindsight, any concern with the way it was conducted? I've been looking at frame by frame of video. I saw munitions used on people who were a significant distance away. I saw a baton used on a journalist. The overwhelming majority of the crime as far as I could tell was not participating in anything violent. In hindsight, was that the best way to handle the situation?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: Well, I-- I think that the-- the plan of action-- was to not experience another night of rioting. We had gone through three nights of rioting. There had been fires set. There had been-- 80 or 90 federal officers injured including some serious injuries over three nights of rioting. Fires right there in the-- in the White House quad essentially. And-- we were determined that that wasn't going to go on for a fourth night. So the idea was to-- move the crowd back and-- part of what was gonna happen was that the park police were then gonna put some fencing up so we wouldn't have these kinds of-- difficulties going forward. And-- we wanted to move them out-- before the evening. And-- also-- when there were enough trained personnel there to do it properly. And I think that that was what was done. I think the park police and the secret service carried that out. And-- their view was that it was-- a very rowdy crowd, very much like the crowds in the three proceeding nights. So they were concerned about it.

PIERRE THOMAS: So you think it was appropriate and you're not uncomfortable with what you saw?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: No.

PIERRE THOMAS: And in terms of the photo op, was it done because of that? Just flat out was it done because the president was gonna go over and walk and have a photo op? Was that-- did that play a role at all in it?

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: No, the-- the-- plan was to move the demonstrators up toward I Street to take the pressure off Lafayette so that Lafayette could be, you know, the fencing could be improved. And the crowd could be pushed back away from the-- the north part of Lafayette. That's why it was done. It was not done to set up a photo op.

PIERRE THOMAS: Okay. I thank you, sir.

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: Thanks, appreciate it.

* * *END OF TRANSCRIPT* * *

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