Former Attorney General Bill Barr claimed Wednesday that the charges against former President Donald Trump were “not an abuse.”
Special Counsel Jack Smith secured a four-count indictment of Trump relating to his efforts to contest the results of the 2020 election after he previously secured a 37-count indictment against Trump in June based on an investigation into allegations surrounding classified documents. Trump will be arraigned on the charges on Aug. 3 at a federal courthouse in Washington, D.C.
“I think it’s a legitimate case. I think unlike the document case, it’s going to have issues of proof. It’s a more complicated case, and I think there are some downsides to it,” Barr told CNN host Kaitlan Collins. “I think there are reasons not to bring it. I said before I’m a little concerned about the slippery slope of criminalizing legitimate political activity.”
Legal experts noted that much of the conduct Smith claimed was criminal in the indictment appeared to be protected by the First Amendment. Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz said that the indictment attacked not only the First Amendment, but also Trump’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel.
“I’m worried about moving in that direction, and I’m also worried about bringing this case and the divisiveness it will bring by highlighting the double standard, because at the same time this case is being brought in the department appears to have dropped the ball on the Hunter Biden investigation,” Barr continued. “It’s going to be very hard to persuade many Republicans that this isn’t political.”
“I may have exercised discretion and not gone forward with the case,” Barr added. “I’m also concerned about having this case going on during the election and diverting people’s attention from the issues in the election. I’m also worried about what the impact is if there are acquittals during the campaign. But as a legal matter, I don’t see a problem with the indictment. I think it’s not an abuse. The Department of Justice is not acting to weaponize the department by proceeding against the president for a conspiracy to subvert the electoral process. ”
Hunter Biden pled not guilty to all charges after the plea deal collapsed when United States District Judge Maryellen Noreika rejected both the initial plea deal and a more limited revision on July 26.
Congressional Republicans, candidates for the Republican nomination for president in 2024, and legal experts all criticized the plea agreement announced June 20, with some calling it a “sweetheart deal.”
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