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Former Attorney General William Barr argues he wasn't a 'toady' to Trump in memoir

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

In a new memoir, former Attorney General William Barr is defending his time in office. Barr tells our colleague Steve Inskeep that he refuted Trump's lies about the election he lost in 2020.

WILLIAM BARR: He didn't seem to listen to anybody except a group of sycophants who were telling him what was - what he wanted to hear.

STEVE INSKEEP, BYLINE: We're talking about Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell.

BARR: People like the...

INSKEEP: Pillow guy.

BARR: Yeah, a lot of people on the outside and some people on the inside.

CHANG: Barr said publicly in 2020 that the Justice Department found no evidence of widespread fraud.

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

But on other issues, he agrees with the ex-president. He defends decisions in favor of Trump or his allies, like dropping charges against a former national security adviser.

BARR: The times I intervened in a case that was politically charged, it was to do the right thing. It was to stop an abuse. The...

INSKEEP: Do you mean like dismissing the charges against Mike Flynn?

BARR: Yeah, that was an abuse. That was an abuse.

INSKEEP: Why was it an abuse? He lied to the FBI.

BARR: Well, it's - you know, he pled that he lied to the FBI...

INSKEEP: He admitted it. Yes.

BARR: ...As part of a plea deal, which was one of the reasons I was reluctant to get involved in it.

MCCAMMON: Barr argues against what he called the criminalization of politics, turning disagreements into investigations.

CHANG: His memoir also blames progressives, not Trump, for dividing the country. In short, Barr insists he sided with Trump so often not because he was a, quote, "toady" but because the two of them agreed. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.