Former U.S. Attorney General William Barr defended Special Counsel Jack Smith's 37-count indictment against Donald Trump on Sunday, stating that if the allegations that the former president knowingly kept hundreds of highly classified documents are true, then "he's toast."
"I was shocked by the degree of sensitivity and quantity of these documents," Barr, who served under Trump, said on "Fox News Sunday." "I believe the counts under the Espionage Act that he willfully retained these documents are solid counts."
If even half of it is true, he is finished.
Barr, who served as Trump's attorney general from February 2019 to December 2020, made his remarks at a time when many other prominent Republicans have been reluctant to criticize the former president and current Republican front-runner in the 2024 presidential election.
Trump responded to Barr's remarks with barbs and criticism. Trump claimed on his social media platform Truth Social that he only referred to Barr as "lazy" and "weak" because he was dissatisfied and the comments were false. "Turn off Fox News whenever that "Gutless Pig" is on," Trump said.
Tuesday, the former president is scheduled to make his initial appearance in a federal courthouse in Miami on charges including the willful retention of highly sensitive national defense records in violation of the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice, making false statements, conspiracy, and concealment.
Trump told Politico on Saturday that he would continue his presidential campaign even if he was convicted, stating, "I'll never leave."
According to his presidential campaign, he will deliver remarks at 8:15 p.m. on Tuesday (00:15 GMT on Wednesday) at his golf club in Bedminster, New York.
Hundreds of pro-Trump supporters traveled from Miami to Palm Beach in a caravan on Sunday to demonstrate their support for the former president, as they have done on numerous occasions since he left office.
Cars adorned with American flags and pro-Trump slogans on placards made the 80-mile (130-kilometer) journey, roaring the entire way and assembling in the parking lot of a Palm Beach grocery store for a rally.
In 31 37 counts against Trump, he is accused of retaining secret and top-secret classified documents after departing the White House in early 2021.
The indictment alleges that Trump haphazardly stored classified documents at his Palm Beach, Florida, residence, refused to return them to the government, and attempted to conceal them from the FBI and his attorney after a grand jury issued him a subpoena requiring him to turn over all classified records.
His counsel Alina Habba, who is not representing him in the case, stated on "Fox News Sunday" that Trump is innocent and will vigorously defend himself.
Barr has been a staunch defender of Trump, even appointing his special counsel to investigate whether the FBI improperly opened an investigation into Trump's 2016 presidential campaign over potential ties to Russia based on insufficient evidence.
In an unsuccessful attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, former President Trump pressured the Justice Department to initiate bogus voter fraud investigations. As a result, Barr's opinion of Trump deteriorated toward the end of his tenure.
Not 'Personal Documents'
Trump has previously defended his retention of classified documents, alleging without evidence that he declassified them while in office. His allies have also echoed this defense.
Jim Jordan, chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that he relies on the president's word that he did it when asked if he had evidence to support Trump's claim.
In prior litigation involving the FBI's search of his Florida residence, Trump's attorneys repeatedly declined to make this argument in court filings. Additionally, the indictment contains evidence that Trump knew he had retained highly classified records.
The indictment quotes Trump as saying, "As president, I could have declassified it," regarding a military document he allegedly exhibited during a July 2021 meeting at his New Jersey golf club. "Now I can't, you know, because this is still a secret."
Trump and his associates have separately argued that the records are personal and protected under the Presidential Records Act.
"He has every right to have classified documents that he declassifies under the Presidential Records Act," Habba stated on Fox News Sunday.
Barr, however, stated that the claim that the documents were Trump's records is "facially ridiculous."
According to him, the records referenced in the indictment are "official records" compiled by government intelligence agencies and, therefore, government property.
"Battle plans for an attack on another country or Defense Department documents about our capabilities are in no universe Donald J. Trump's personal documents," he declared.