Bill Barr says Trump often suggested executing his rivals during heated White House outbursts

Despite Bill Barr’s repeatedly voicing concerns about Donald Trump, he has now said he will vote for him again this November

Joe Sommerlad
Monday 29 April 2024 17:54 BST
Bill Barr says Trump would 'threaten execution' when he was angry

Bill Barr has claimed Donald Trump often suggested executing his political rivals during heated moments of his four-year tenure in the White House.

Former White House communications director Alyssa Farah Griffin told The View back in December that Mr Trump once called for a staff member to be put to death for leaking a story about the then-president going down to a bunker during Black Lives Matter protests in summer 2020.

Former Trump administration attorney general Mr Barr was asked about the claims during an interview on CNN last week.

“I remember him being very mad about that,” Mr Barr said on the matter.

“I actually don’t remember him saying ‘executing’ but I wouldn’t dispute it, you know… The president would lose his temper and say things like that. I doubt he would’ve actually carried it out.”

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins then asked whether the 45th president had made similarly extreme statements “on other occasions” during his presidency.

Mr Barr brushed off the comments saying that people would take Mr Trump “too literally” – before acknowledging that he would make such statements.

Former US attorney general Bill Barr is interviewed by Kaitlan Collins on CNN on Friday 26 April 2024 (CNN)

“He would say things similar to that on occasions to blow off steam. But I wouldn’t take them literally every time he did it,” Mr Barr said, adding: “At the end of the day, it wouldn’t be carried out and you could talk sense into him.”

“I don’t think the threat is there. The thing that I worry about president Trump is not that he’s going to become an autocrat and do those kinds of things,” he said.

“Having worked for him and seen him in action, I don’t think he would actually go and kill political rivals and things like that.”

The Independent has approached the Trump campaign for comment about Mr Barr’s remarks.

Back in September, Mr Trump sparked outrage when he appeared to call for the execution of the outgoing head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, claiming he was committing treason.

“Mark Milley, who led perhaps the most embarrassing moment in American history with his grossly incompetent implementation of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, costing many lives, leaving behind hundreds of American citizens, and handing over BILLIONS of dollars of the finest military equipment ever made, will be leaving the military next week,” Mr Trump wrote on Truth Social.

“This will be a time for all citizens of the USA to celebrate!” he continued. “This guy turned out to be a Woke train wreck who, if the Fake News reporting is correct, was actually dealing with China to give them a heads up on the thinking of the President of the United States. This is an act so egregious that, in times gone by, the punishment would have been DEATH!”

Former president Donald Trump speaks with the media at the end of the day’s proceedings at his trial at Manhattan Criminal Court on Friday 26 April 2024 (AP)

General Milley later said that he had to take “adequate safety precautions” in response to the threatening comments.

Mr Trump has ramped up his use of violent rhetoric as he campaigns to take back the White House in November.

The former president has been slammed for his use of dehumanising language towards migrants, for comparing himself to the feared Chicago mobster Al Capone and for posting disturbing memes online, including one showing an image of President Joe Biden bound and gagged on the back of a MAGA pickup truck.

Despite Mr Barr’s repeated statements of concern about Mr Trump, he has now said he will vote for him again this election.

“I’ve said all along, given two bad choices, I think it’s my duty to pick the person I think would do the least harm to the country,” he told Fox News earlier this month.

“And in my mind, I will vote the Republican ticket. I will support the Republican ticket. I think the real danger to the country – the real danger to democracy, as I say – is the progressive agenda.

“Trump may be playing Russian roulette, but a continuation of the Biden administration is national suicide in my opinion.”

Mr Trump responded to that endorsement, inevitably, with a cruel and taunting post about Mr Barr on his Truth Social platform.

“Wow! Former A.G. Bill Barr, who let a lot of great people down by not investigating Voter Fraud in our Country, has just Endorsed me for President despite the fact that I called him ‘Weak, Slow Moving, Lethargic, Gutless, and Lazy’ (New York Post!),” Mr Trump posted.

“Based on the fact that I greatly appreciate his wholehearted Endorsement, I am removing the word ‘Lethargic’ from my statement. Thank you Bill. MAGA2024!”

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