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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Bill Barr On The Third Indictment Of Donald Trump; Barr: I Believe Trump "Knew Well" He Lost The Election; UCLA Law Professor: January 6 Indictment Is The Most Important Case In Our Nation's History. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired August 02, 2023 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And we send them our love, and we send Melissa, our love as well. Melissa Elkas was 52-years-old.

That's it for us. The news continues. "THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS" starts now.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Tonight, straight from THE SOURCE, my exclusive interview, with former Trump Attorney General, Bill Barr, his first reaction to the prosecution of the former President, for charges that he tried to overturn the election.

And for Trump, arraignment number three is tomorrow, how he's preparing for the legal fight of his life. And the judge overseeing it has already delivered this line. "Presidents are not kings."

Plus, could it be the most important case, in U.S. history? One of the nation's top election experts says that democracy is on the line, in the United States versus Donald Trump.

I'm Kaitlan Collins. And this is THE SOURCE.

Donald Trump will be arraigned, in less than 24 hours, from now, right here, in Washington, D.C., the first time, for crimes that he allegedly committed, as President, against his country. He's expected to appear in court, at 4 PM Eastern, in person, we are told.

And today, his former Vice President, and now, 2024 challenger, and a critical witness, in this case, had a lot more to say, about the January 6th indictment, and his former boss's role.


MIKE PENCE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Anyone who puts themselves over the Constitution should never be President of the United States.

It wasn't just that they asked for a pause. The President specifically asked me, and his gaggle of crackpot lawyers, asked me, to literally reject votes, essentially, to overturn the election.


COLLINS: And I'm joined now by the former Trump Attorney General, Bill Barr, his first reaction, since we have seen these new charges.

And thank you so much, for being here, Mr. Attorney General.

I mean, you've now read through this indictment. Do you think it's a strong case?

WILLIAM BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes, 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. I think there were reasons not to bring it. I've said before, I'm a little concerned, about the slippery slope, of criminalizing legitimate political activity. And I'm worried about moving in that direction.

And I'm also worried about bringing this case, and the divisiveness that it will bring, by highlighting the double standard, because at the same time this case is being brought, the Department appears to have dropped the ball on the Hunter Biden investigation. It's going to be very hard to persuade many Republicans that this isn't political.

COLLINS: We'll talk about the Hunter Biden investigation.

But I mean, when you do look at the indictment, do you think it's something you would have brought?

BARR: I think -- I don't know if I would have approved the indictment. But in the sense, I may have exercised discretion, and not gone forward with the case.

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 that 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.

COLLINS: Which is what Trump's attorneys are saying, and they're also saying that he was just exercising his First Amendment right here. Do you think that's a valid argument, in your view?

BARR: No, I really don't think that's a valid argument, because, as the indictment says, they're not attacking his First Amendment right. He can say whatever he wants. He can even lie. He can even tell people that the election was stolen, when he knew better. But that does not protect you, from entering into a conspiracy.

All conspiracies involve speech. And all fraud involves speech. So, free speech doesn't give you the right, to engage in a fraudulent conspiracy.

COLLINS: The other thing that they're arguing, including John Lauro, Trump's new attorney, to me, last night, was that they were simply asking the former Vice President Mike Pence, to pause, on the counting of votes.

Mike Pence pushed back on that today, said, that's not what they were asking him to do.



PENCE: Let's be clear, on this point. It wasn't just that they asked for a pause. The President specifically asked me, and his gaggle of crackpot lawyers, asked me, to literally reject votes, to -- which would have resulted in the issue being turned over to the House of Representatives, and literally, chaos would have ensued.


COLLINS: How strong of a witness, do you think, he'll be, against Trump, if he's called?

BARR: Vice President? I think he'll be a very strong witness. He has the highest integrity. He's behaved with dignity, and propriety, all the way through this.

COLLINS: You agree that they weren't just asking him to pause the counting of the votes? They were asking him to overturn the election?

BARR: I wasn't around. But from what I read in the indictment, there was a discussion, and the President himself stressed that he would prefer him, just to accept the votes, the panels that were pro-Trump that it wasn't a question of just buying time.

COLLINS: Yes. The other argument that we're hearing is about who Trump was listening to, at this time.

Trump's Attorney, John Lauro, said this of John Eastman.


JOHN LAURO, DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: Mr. Trump had the advice of counsel, Mr. Eastman, who was one of the most respected constitutional scholars, in the United States, giving him advice and guidance.


COLLINS: He's citing John Eastman, as this constitutional scholar.

But we know in the indictment, I mean, it says Trump was ignoring your advice, that of other senior Justice Department officials, Pat Cipollone, the White House Counsel, the Director of National Intelligence.

I mean, is it a credible defense to say he was just listening to John Eastman?

BARR: Yes, I don't think that dog is going to hunt.

As you say -- first, as to people who had some knowledge, of whether or not there was fraud, everyone was telling him that the election was not stolen by fraud.

And then, as to the issue, of what he could do legally, at that point, he went through, all the lawyer -- you know, he wouldn't listen to all the lawyers, in the Department who, in various departments, or the White House that had those responsibilities, or his campaign. He would search for a lawyer, who would give him the advice he wanted.

But I'm not even sure you would characterize what Eastman said as advice. I mean, it'd be interesting to see. But I interpreted some, what he was saying essentially was, "Well, you know, it's unclear here, and you can make this argument. I'm not saying the courts would accept it," and so forth. And you act on that, it's your own hazard.

Also, I don't think this defense of advice of counsel is going to go forward, because I think the President would have to get on the stand, and subject himself to cross-examination, in order to raise that. And he'd also have to waive attorney-client privilege. And --

COLLINS: And what would happen if he got on the stand?

BARR: I think it would not look -- would not come out very well for him.

COLLINS: Do you think it would hurt him?

BARR: Oh, yes, yes.

COLLINS: Why do you think that?

BARR: Well, because I think he'd be subjected to very skilled cross- examination. And I doubt he remembers all the different versions of events, he's given, over the last few years.

COLLINS: Do you think he knew that he lost the election?

BARR: Do I personally believe that? Yes, at first, I wasn't sure. But I have come to believe that he knew well, that he had lost the election.

And now, what I think is important is the government has assumed the burden of proving that. The government, in their indictment, takes the position that he had actual knowledge that he had lost the election, and the election wasn't stolen through fraud. And they're going to have to prove that beyond a reasonable doubt.

COLLINS: Which is a high bar, of course?

BARR: That's a high bar. Now, that leads me to believe that they were only seeing a tip of the iceberg on this, the indictment.

COLLINS: You think Jack Smith has more? BARR: Oh, yes, I would believe he has a lot more. And that's one of the things that impressed me about the indictment. It was very spare. And there are a lot of things he could have said in there. And I think there's a lot more to come. And I think they have a lot more evidence, as to the President Trump's state of mind.

COLLINS: You said you've come around to the idea that you do think he knew that he lost. Why have you come around to that?

BARR: Number one, comments from people, like Bannon, and Stone, before the election, saying that he was going to -- he was going to claim it was stolen, if he was falling behind, on Election Night, and that that was the plan of action. I find those statements very troubling. And then, you see that he does that on Election Night.

And then, the evidence that has come out since then, the press reports, and the indictment, and his lack of curiosity, as to what the actual facts were, just leave -- that's my personal opinion. That's my personal opinion. And we'll see if the government can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.

COLLINS: You spoke to the January 6th congressional committee. Have you talked to Jack Smith's investigators?

BARR: I'm not going to get into that. I'm not going to get into that.



You came out on December 1st. You were there on Election Night. And you said that the Justice Department had uncovered no voting fraud, on a scale of what would have changed the outcome of the election.

BARR: Right.

COLLINS: When you look back on that time period, from the election to December 1st, do you ever wish that you had come out sooner and spoken up sooner?

BARR: Not at all. Because if I had come out, and shot from the hip, without doing some due diligence, and making sure I understood what the claims were, and that I knew the facts, and if I turned out to be wrong, without doing due diligence? I think that would have been a disaster for the country. So, I had to get -- I had to get --

COLLINS: But did you need that long to do due diligence?

BARR: Well, the allegations kept on changing from day to day, and were very frequently specific. A truck driver took so many ballots from here to there?

COLLINS: And you interviewed that truck driver, even?

BARR: Well, I didn't, but the Department did.

COLLINS: The Department did.

BARR: Yes. So, we were chasing down all these things. And I wanted to make sure that the major allegations were looked at, and that I had a good sense of what happened.

I also wanted to analyze the votes themselves, and see how the voting patterns were in those States. Not only did we not find any fraud, of that magnitude, but in the States, and when you actually looked at the votes, they were very clear to me why he lost.

He ran as the weakest person on the Republican ticket. Like, in Pennsylvania, he came in 60,000 votes, below the Republican ticket. So, he's losing Republican votes. He lost at least 75,000 Republican votes, in Arizona.

And so, to me, there was no -- and these were the -- these were the female voters, in the suburbs that were Republicans. These were the Independents in the suburbs that ordinarily would vote Republican. So, I didn't think there was a mystery as to why he lost.

COLLINS: Because it was in areas that he was underperforming with.

BARR: Right.

COLLINS: His attorney predicts it would take nine months to a year to try this case.

Do you think a good solid defense team could get it done, before the 2024 election?

BARR: I think it all depends on the judge. And I think my impression is this judge may want to move it along. And so, they'll have to be ready to try the case, when she's ready to try the case.

COLLINS: But do you think the American people -- was it in the American people's best interest to have this adjudicated, before the 2024 election happens, before they cast their ballots?

BARR: Well, the paramount question has to be fairness to the defendants, the fairness of the process. And I think it goes -- I think there are arguments to be made, both ways, as to whether it should be first, or whether it should come afterwards. Of course, if he's elected president, then coming afterwards, would be meaningless.

COLLINS: Because you believe he tried to essentially either get rid of it --

BARR: Yes.

COLLINS: -- or pardon himself.

BARR: Do you think this entire indictment, for January 6th, could have been avoided? Is this something of his own making?

COLLINS: Yes, I don't think that this is an issue of his victimization. I think he brought this on himself. This is one of the reasons I oppose him, for the Republican nomination, because he has this penchant, for engaging in these reckless acts, that create these calamitous situations, and then undercut the cause, he is supposed to be leading. And this is a perfect example of it.

BARR: All right, Mr. Attorney General, standby, I want to ask you a lot more questions. I know you have thoughts on the documents case. There are other indictments. I also want to ask you more about that comment that you just made, about opposing him, for the 2024 nomination.

We'll be back. More to come with the former Attorney General, Bill Barr, whether or not he foresees a fourth indictment, following this third indictment. He once said "Trump is toast," if half of the classified documents case allegations are true. What does he think now that more charges have been added since that prediction?



COLLINS: Back now with the former Attorney General, Bill Barr.

And since we have last spoken, on this program, Trump is now facing a superseding indictment --

BARR: Yes.

COLLINS: -- in the documents case, which means more charges have been added. You thought it was a serious case before. Now that these other charges have been added, do you believe it's even stronger now?

BARR: Oh, yes, it's definitely more -- stronger, the allegation of another kind of cover-up, and obstruction attempt, after getting a subpoena, for the surveillance tapes, then entering into a conspiracy, to delete the surveillance tapes. So, that certainly buttresses the government's case.

And it's also quite typical, in this sense. These two individuals Nauta, and the --

COLLINS: Carlos.

BARR: -- Carlos, are dragged into this thing. Their lives turned upside down, by Trump, to pursue, this caper of his. And he leaves in his wake, ruined lives, like this, the people who went up, to Capitol Hill, these individuals, many of the people, who served him, in government, that got sucked into things and he just leaves all this carnage, in his wake.

COLLINS: Do you think he cares about that?

BARR: No, he doesn't care about that. Loyalty is a one way street for him. And, in many ways, I think these two people, down in Mar-a-Lago, represent many Republicans, who feel that they have to man the ramparts, and defend this guy, no matter what he does, and go along with him. And I think they have to be careful, or they're going to end up, as part of the carnage, in his wake.

COLLINS: That's what your message is, to those people, who do feel that sense of loyalty to him?

BARR: I think we will have primary loyalty, to the Constitution, and the country, not to any particular individual. And, at some point, trying to defend the indefensible really demeans you.

COLLINS: He always says he had a right to declassify the documents, or take them with him. I mean, if he really thought that, why would he ask someone to delete security surveillance footage?

BARR: Well, yes, but not the whole thing. If he really thought he had the right to have the documents, there were umpteen ways, for him, to assert that when he was asked by the government, and during that one- and-a-half year period. He never did. He never asserted it in a lawful way.

What did he do? He obstructed the subpoena, and both subpoenas.

COLLINS: You've said before that at its core, this is an obstruction case.

BARR: Yes.

COLLINS: But, as you said, if he gave the documents back, he would have never been indicted.


But what do you say, to Republicans, and this includes 2024 GOP candidates, who say it's unfair, for him, to be prosecuted, for that. They say it's a process crime.

BARR: It's hard -- well I mean this is a grand jury subpoena, asking for the documents. And he makes his lawyer -- puts his lawyer in a position of making a false statement that a full search was made, when he knew it wasn't and, in fact, prevented the lawyer from making it. I mean, that's the essence of obstruction, obstruction of a grand jury. It doesn't get more serious than that.

COLLINS: What would you say? He just brought on two new attorneys, Todd Blanche, in April, John Lauro, just now. I mean, given what has happened, with other attorneys that he's had, what would you -- what's your advice to his attorneys? Do you have any?

BARR: Get a lot of insurance. They'll be spending a lot of time, themselves, at some point, before grand juries, or answering questions, or as witnesses, in investigations.

COLLINS: He's spending a lot of money, on legal fees too. His Political Action Committee spent more than $40 million, on legal fees, already this year. I mean, what is it -- what do you make of his supporters, his political supporters, giving him money, to his campaign, and he then uses that for his legal fees and his co- defendants' legal fees?

BARR: Yes, I find that sort of nauseating. I mean, this guy claims to be a multi-billionaire. And he goes out, and raises money, from hard- working class, hard-working people, small donors, and tells them, "This is to defend America, and to take care of the elect" -- he didn't provide any significant support, during the 2022 elections. And a lot of this money seems to be going to his legal fees.

COLLINS: You just mentioned earlier that you don't believe in the weaponization of the Justice Department. That's something we often hear, from members of Congress, who are loyal to him, after he gets indicted, in these cases. I mean, does that undermine trust in the department that you used to lead?

BARR: Does what undermine it?

COLLINS: When Republicans come out and say, this is a two-tiered justice system? This is --


BARR: No. I mean, I do think, you know, I do think that there is a double standard. I think it's sometime --

COLLINS: From whom?

BARR: I think that the Department tends to go far more aggressively after Republican or allegations of Republican wrongdoing, than Democrat. And I've seen it myself. I've lived through it. I've seen it.

Now, it's not as pervasive as is represented. And it's not automatic. And I think there's still many, many great prosecutors, in the Department, who can check their politics, and be fair to whoever it is, regardless of their politics.

But I do think that there's some political actors, in the Department. And I'm glad that Chairman Comer is conducting his investigation.

COLLINS: Well, speaking of that, one thing we've heard is that -- you mentioned Hunter Biden, earlier. David Weiss, the Trump-appointed U.S. attorney, who was handling that investigation, did you ever consider making him Special Counsel, before you left office?

BARR: Yes, I did consider it. But I felt that a couple of things.

One, I didn't want to set a precedent of setting on the way out the door, of appointing a Special Counsel, to investigate, essentially, the children of the incoming president, and the family of the incoming president. I think that would become sort of de rigueur, and it would be a bad development. Second, I didn't think there was a basis for me to do it because our department didn't have a conflict of interest. And it had to be left up to Garland, to make that decision, for his department. He had the one -- he would had to determine whether he had a conflict, and he should bring in a Special Counsel.

And if I preempted that decision, I thought it would give them the basis, for saying, "This was a political move. And we're going to terminate him. We're just going to take it out." And it would have given them cover, I think, to end the investigation.

I believed he would keep the investigation going, and keep Weiss in place. And he did.

COLLINS: Trump has promised that if he gets back into office, he's very blatant about this, about using the Justice Department, to go after his political opponents. Do you worry that he would weaponize it, if he was back in office?

BARR: Absolutely. And that's why I think it's so ironic all these people are getting huffy, about weaponization, which they should, because we can't go tit for tat. But Trump, as you say, I mean, he's very clear about it. I think there's no question that he believes these institutions should be used to go after his enemies.

COLLINS: I want to ask you more about that. Could you -- do you mind sticking around, for a few minutes, if we took a quick break?

BARR: No, I don't mind.

COLLINS: All right. We'll be back, in just a moment, with Trump's former Attorney General, Bill Barr, his first interview, since the former President was indicted, a second time, on federal charges, and ahead of his arraignment, here, in Washington, tomorrow. We'll be right back.



COLLINS: I'm back now with former Attorney General, Bill Barr.

We were just talking about special counsels. And one thing that I think gets glossed over, just because so much is said, by Trump, every day, are his attacks, on Jack Smith. I mean, he calls him, "Deranged." He called him a crack-head, once. He implied that he had something to do with the cocaine that was found at the White House.

I mean, when you hear those comments that he makes about the person, who's prosecuting him, what do you think?

BARR: To me, it's amazing that you read through the indictment and his behavior in that indictment. And it's nauseating, it's despicable behavior. Whether it's criminal or not, someone who engaged in that kind of bullying, about a process that is fundamental to our system, and to our self-government shouldn't be anywhere near the Oval Office. And for him to be attacking a prosecutor, who is investigating that with all the epithets, and so forth, which he has no basis for, as far as I can tell, is ridiculous.

Now, he's an aggressive prosecutor. He's the kind of prosecutor, in my view, that if he thinks someone has committed a crime, he hones in on it, and really goes, to try to make that case. There's no question he's aggressive. But I do not think that he's a partisan actor, he personally.

COLLINS: And you think he's treated Trump fairly here?

BARR: I don't know whether he's treated Trump fairly.

COLLINS: From what you've observed, I guess?


BARR: Yes, from what I -- from what I've observed. I don't know him. But I know a lot of Republican lawyers, who have worked with him, over the years. And they tell me, he's a tough, hard-nosed prosecutor, but that he is not a partisan prosecutor.

COLLINS: You've talked about the allegations that are in here, and how, I mean, the allegation of subverting legitimate American votes, subverting democracy. I mean, Trump is still talking about that, if you watch any of his campaign speeches, or anything. He's even posting today that now that this case is going forward, they'll actually see the claims of fraud that he's been making, for two-and-a-half years, three years now.

BARR: Yes. Here we are, two-and-a-half years, and still they haven't come forward with any evidence. And, in fact, as the indictment puts forward, you have Giuliani, saying, "Yes, we have a lot of theories, but we don't have any evidence." Well that's a pretty big admission. No evidence. They wanted to overturn the election, and they had no evidence of outcome determinative fraud.

COLLINS: Can you just walk us through, and remind us, what it was like, when you resigned?

I mean, I know there was a meeting, where when you came out and said there was no evidence of fraud that could change the election. You actually had to go to the White House, that day. And you told the January 6 committee that you were taken, into the Oval Office Study, Trump was in there. You said he was so mad he wouldn't even look at you.

BARR: Well it's in the first page of my book, a blow-by-blow account of that.

But yes, he was berating me, on a number of things. And I explained the various allegations of fraud, and that he was making, and why they were bogus.

And then, he started saying that he was disgusted with the fact that I didn't indict Comey, and others that he wanted to have indicted.

And I said, "Look, I know you're disappointed in me. And if you want me to resign, I'm glad to resign."

And he hit the table, very hard, and said, "Accepted."

So, I said, "Fine." And I walked out.

And he sent two lawyers, running after me, to bring me back. I didn't go back. I said, "We'll talk about it in the morning." And he said he didn't want me to leave. So, that's -- but I resigned on December 14th, anyway.

COLLINS: You've recently told NBC News, you were asked if you'd support Trump, and you said, you'll jump off that bridge when you get to it.

BARR: Yes.

COLLINS: Are you ready to jump off that bridge?

BARR: No, I have to wait to see what the situation is. And I'll pick my poison at that point.

COLLINS: So, you aren't ready to rule out, if he's the nominee, saying you won't vote for him?

BARR: I'm just saying I'll pick my poison at that point.

COLLINS: I think some people maybe --

BARR: But, by the way, I also believe that Biden is unfit for office. And I -- in terms of --

COLLINS: Well, you're a lifelong Republican. I don't think that's a surprise that you would say that you don't think Biden --

BARR: No. But before --

COLLINS: -- is fit for office.

BARR: Look, there are Democrats that I think are honorable people, and whose policies, I don't think are extreme and so forth.

But I think Biden has turned the keys of the kingdom over to radical progressives. And in terms of his personal ethics, I think there's some red flags there, that I think people should be paying attention to. I don't think he's morally superior, necessarily to Trump.

COLLINS: But I don't think people would be surprised to hear you say that you don't think Biden should be president. But I think people would be surprised that you won't say that about Trump, given, I mean, for you personally --

BARR: No. I've said. I don't think he should be near the Oval Office. And that's why -- COLLINS: But that you wouldn't vote for him in 2024?

BARR: I'm just saying --

COLLINS: I mean, he's called you a coward, lazy, gutless pig, RINO, I mean, he's called you all of these.

BARR: Some other ones, go ahead.

COLLINS: Yes, I know. That's just a handful of the ones that I --

BARR: Yes.

COLLINS: -- that I pulled.

I mean, what do you say to people, who look at what you say about Trump, your criticisms of him that you don't think he belongs near the Oval Office, but that you don't rule out voting for him in 2024?

BARR: Because my view is that I'll have to wait and see what the entire record is, what comes out and so forth.

But my view is that if you feel that one of two people is going to be president, in other words, there's no third option, one of two people are going to be president? Then, at that point, you have to do your soul-searching, as to which one you think would do least harm, to the country. And that's the analysis that I would do.

COLLINS: Would you ever vote for a third-party candidate? That's kind of something floating around.

BARR: Well, again, it's hypothetical. It depends if -- I would not throw my vote away on someone, who had no chance of winning, just so I could feel morally virtuous and say, "Well, at least I didn't vote for him."

My view is I want to participate in a decision -- if one of two is going to make it out, I want to participate in that decision. If there was a third-party that actually had a chance, and they were consistent, with my philosophy, or superior to the other two? I would consider that.

COLLINS: Trump is surging in the polls. We don't know yet the effect that this indictment or potential trials could have on it. But, right now, he's miles ahead of his other challengers.

I mean, you served in the Bush administration. You served for Trump. You're a lifelong Republican. What is it say about the Republican Party that he is doing so well, right now, in the polls?

BARR: Well, actually, I think a lot of those polls are misleading.


I think before the indictment by Bragg, he was hemorrhaging support. His numbers were dropping very quickly, and DeSantis was going up very quickly. Then, the Bragg indictment hit, which was a political hit job, and that seems to have changed the dynamic, for a while.

But I think that same underlying dynamic is there. And I saw a poll today, saying that 46 percent of people, who say they're for Trump now, are willing to change. So, I think between 40 percent and 50 percent of his support, are people who, right now, are saying, "Yes, Trump," partly because he's under attack. But I think as things go forward, they'll be more likely to change.

COLLINS: And you're speaking out a lot. I mean, not a lot, but you make your decision, to come and do interviews --

BARR: Yes.

COLLINS: -- like you're doing this one, here, tonight. Is that so you're trying to make sure that Trump is not the nominee?

BARR: Yes, I mean -- yes. Because I think the Republican Party has a great opportunity. When you look at our States, like Florida, Georgia, Virginia, we have conservative governors, who are winning substantial victories, broadening the party, bringing people in. And I think that can be done, on the national level, by any of our candidates, but Trump.

Trump has already shown that he cannot forge that kind of decisive victory, at the national level. He's a three-time loser. And I think he will clearly lose again, on the national level.

COLLINS: Attorney General, Bill Barr, thank you, for joining us --

BARR: Thank you, Kaitlan. Thanks.

COLLINS: -- in studio, tonight, with all those insights.

BARR: Thanks.

COLLINS: We'll get reaction, to that interview, and much more, as Trump is preparing for his next arraignment, here in Washington, tomorrow, next.



COLLINS: Back now, following a marathon interview, with Bill Barr, the former Attorney General, under Donald Trump. It was his first interview, since Trump was indicted, yesterday, of course, his second round of federal charges, this time, in relation to his efforts, to overturn the 2020 election.

We asked Barr, someone who was obviously the head of the Justice Department, when Trump was in office, resigned after the 2020 election happened, if he thought that Trump really knew that he lost the election.

This is what Barr said.


BARR: Yes, at first, I wasn't sure. But I have come to believe that he knew well, that he had lost the election.

And now, what I think is important is the government has assumed the burden of proving that. The government, in their indictment, takes the position that he had actual knowledge that he had lost the election, and the election wasn't stolen through fraud. And they're going to have to prove that beyond a reasonable doubt.


COLLINS: Evan Perez, you covered the Justice Department, when Bill Barr was there. I mean, to hear him say that he does now think Trump did know that he lost the election, I mean what do you make of that?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, I think, like he said, I think a lot of people, who worked with the former President, who were there, during that period, were really kind of not sure, right?

And certainly I think some people, who were involved, in some of these discussions, I think, believed that the former President would pass a lie detector test, because he's that delusional, about what happened.

But, one of the things that I think the former Attorney General is getting at is that, the prosecutors have a ton of evidence. There is the things that he mentioned, the Roger Stone, the Steve Bannon, there is a whole idea that they had concocted this whole plan, that if he fell behind, he was going to declare victory, and declare and claim fraud.

So, there's a ton of circumstantial evidence, and people get convicted every day, in this country, on evidence that not getting into people's state of mind, not getting into their heads. So, I think, he's onto something, there.

COLLINS: And it is a high burden of proof, of course --

PEREZ: Right.

COLLINS: -- as Barr was saying there. But, I mean, Trump's mindset, and his intent here, is at the key, of this indictment, that we got yesterday, Carrie. And looking at that and Bill Barr saying -- noticeably not saying anything, when I asked if he had spoken to Jack Smith, what did you make of that?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, it was very interesting. You asked the question directly. He would not answer, whether or not he had been interviewed by the Special Counsel's team, or whether he had testified before the grand jury.

COLLINS: Can we just play that moment, just?


COLLINS: I just want, for people, who may have missed it.


COLLINS: Let's just show that moment, before we continue.


COLLINS: Have you talked to Jack Smith's investigators?

BARR: I'm not going to get into that. I'm not going to get into that.




CORDERO: Well so here's the thing. Because Bill Barr was Attorney General, until he resigned on December 14th of 2020, which means that he was there for actually a lot of activity, leading up to things, and so -- leading up to January 6th, after the election.

And so, he has a lot of information that he would -- I think that he would have observed. I think it is most likely that he has spoken to the Special Counsel's team. And I don't know what our reporting says, Evan. But it's possible that he testified as well.

PEREZ: Let me just say real quick. One reason why Bill Barr went out publicly, and made that statement, about that there had been no fraud, that there was no evidence of fraud?


PEREZ: Is because he saw this coming. He believed that once he left, Donald Trump was going to pressure the Justice Department, and he wanted to make sure that he was on the record, publicly.

Bill Barr doesn't do things like that. He doesn't go out there. And you know him well. He doesn't go out there, publicly, like that, unless there is a particular reason. And he did it because he knew the former President would do that. And if I were Jack Smith's investigators, that's a question I would have asked.


CORDERO: Well and then he got out of the administration, before things really got close to --


COLLINS: Before January 6 happening.

CORDERO: -- January 6, right.

COLLINS: But David Urban, you also know the former Attorney General, well. I mean, he -- and you know Trump, well, too. He was blunt, in his assessment --

URBAN: Sure.

COLLINS: -- of Trump, on the documents case, and the fact that his two co-defendants now, and he kind of just described it, as this path of carnage that has been left behind him.

URBAN: Yes, the superseding -- so, that superseding indictment kind of got a little bit of press, but then got overwhelmed by this, right? And I think that's much more damning, and much more problemsome, for Republicans, that kind of support, right?

When you have like the shush emoji, and there's lots of like -- there's a lot of smoking guns in that case that average people, if you're not really paying attention, you can get, and see, and say, "Well, that's wrong. And that's wrong. And that's wrong," right?


You don't have to read the 45-page indictment and be an appellate lawyer, to understand what happened, in that case, right? So, that I think, is really, really troubling, and much more so, as the Attorney General pointed out.

COLLINS: And Karen, I want you to weigh in on that. But let's show that moment because it was --


COLLINS: -- 40 minutes ago that he made that comment.

This is what Bill Barr said.


BARR: He just leaves all this carnage, in his wake.

COLLINS: Do you think he cares about that?

BARR: No, he doesn't care about that. Loyalty is a one way street for him.

And, in many ways, I think these two people, down in Mar-a-Lago, represent many Republicans, who feel that they have to man the ramparts, and defend this guy, no matter what he does, and go along with him. And I think they have to be careful, or they're going to end up, as part of the carnage, in his wake.


FINNEY: Yes, I bet Michael Cohen agrees with that. There are several people, who have been part of the wreckage, and the carnage, of Donald Trump, over the years that I would have -- I'm sure agree with that.

And it's one of the things, frankly, when looking at that case that it's really sad, to see these two individuals, who probably didn't realize the weight and depth of what they were getting themselves into, while it was happening. But Donald Trump absolutely knew exactly what he was asking them to do, when he was asking them to do it.

And I thought it was also interesting, Evan, your point about the Attorney General, where he was talking about how he was trying, to chase down all of the -- the guy in the truck, and the person over here. And it clearly became clear to him, was completely untrue.

And to your point, again, knowing Trump as he did, he clearly wanted to get out of the way, before the other parts of the scheme were unfolding.

URBAN: And Kaitlan, you asked the Attorney General, if he could vote for Trump again, right? And he's like, let's -- "I'll jump off that bridge, when we get to it." It's interesting, and you kept pushing him, on who you might vote for.

This primary, the Republican primary's taking place. And no one's talking about any issues, in this primary, right? We're going to have a debate, on the 23rd, coming up, the Republican primary debate. And I wonder if the questions, they're going to talk about. They're going to talk about Trump, the whole time, right? I mean, that's a problem if you're Republican.

COLLINS: Yes, I mean?

URBAN: You have a problem.

COLLINS: And remarkable to hear him say about what it means for the party.

We had a lot more to talk about. But obviously that interview was --

URBAN: Oh, it was a good interview.

COLLINS: -- was headline-worthy.

FINNEY: It was a great interview.

COLLINS: Thank you very much. We'll have you all back.

My next guest thinks that the January 6 case is the most important, in the nation's history, laying out the stakes, for America, but also for the former President, accused of what he did, subverting the election.



COLLINS: The indictment itself begins United States of America versus Donald J. Trump. But my next guest argues that while it is the former President who will be on trial, it's actually the fate of the Union that is itself at stake.

This is in a piece, titled, U.S. versus Trump "Will Be the Most Important Case in Our Nation's History." Rick Hasen writes, quote, "It's not hyperbole to say that the conduct of this prosecution will greatly influence whether the U.S. remains a thriving democracy after 2024."

UCLA Law Professor, Director of Safeguarding Democracy Project, and one of the foremost experts, on election law, in America, Rick Hasen joins me now.

Rick, I mean, this was a fascinating article. And it's not a subtle headline that you have there. And, I think, obviously, if you were trying to get people's attention, with your words, it clearly worked.

And there have been a lot of monumental cases. But what is it that stands out? Why do you think this is the biggest one and the most important one?

PROF. RICK HASEN, UCLA SCHOOL OF LAW, DIRECTOR, SAFEGUARDING DEMOCRACY PROJECT: Well, if you contrast it with the other cases, against Trump, one about hush money payments, and one about classified documents? Neither of those implicate American democracy.

The fact is that Trump tried to steal the election, based on everything we know. And he's not been held accountable. He wasn't convicted, in the Senate, or disqualified, by the Senate, from holding office. He's faced no civil liability.

This is really the chance. And if this doesn't work, then what's going to stop Trump, from trying to stay in office, if he's reelected? Or the next person, who wants to try to steal the election? We need to have accountability, for what happened in 2020.

COLLINS: Yes, you were essentially noting the other cases, saying they matter. But it's this case that you believe is more important, the one that gets to the heart of the matter. I mean, you're right, the risks of our system, of government, not prosecuting President Trump, are greater than the risks, of prosecuting him.

Obviously, that's not what we're hearing, from his allies, tonight, his Republican allies. I mean, what do you mean, when you write that? What do you -- what's your message to those who say it's not?

HASEN: Well, I mean, the problem is that what Donald Trump tried to do is unprecedented, in American history. He tried to manipulate the rules that we have, for translating the people's votes, into the choice for President, rules that go through the States, that go through the Congress. And he did so, knowing that it was all based on a lie that he had no right to be president.

This is the most serious thing, politically, that someone can do. And if you can get away with this, then what kind of democracy are you going to have? Democracy means that the winner of the election actually gets to take office. So, this case is about assuring that that continues to happen, in the United States.

COLLINS: You summed it up well, in your article. And everyone should read it. Our friend, Peter Baker, also at "The New York Times," today, took this kind of 30,000-foot look at this, and said, ever since John Adams, "Every defeated president" has "accepted the verdict of the voters and stepped down." And "Ronald Reagan once put it, what 'we accept as normal,' in America, 'is nothing less than a miracle,' until Mr. Trump came along," is what Peter adds there.

I mean, when you look at this, and the idea of what we have seen, and what we see happen, in other nations, and the idea that there are a lot of his supporters that won't believe this trial, that won't think it's fair?

HASEN: Right, there's going to be some people that no matter what the facts are, are not going to believe it.

But for the vast majority of Americans, they want to hear the facts. People were swayed somewhat, by the evidence that the January 6th committee put on.


Even more people are going to be paying attention, if there is a trial, in the middle of a presidential election, where Donald Trump's state of mind, and the actions, he took, in the state after state, to try to overturn the results of a democratically-conducted election, are going to literally be put on trial, and broadcast, for the American people.

And that I hope will convince enough Americans that you've got to vote, thinking about whether or not we're going to have a future democracy, in the United States.

COLLINS: We'll see if those trials happen, before the election.

Rick Hasen, thank you, for joining us, tonight.

HASEN: Thank you.

COLLINS: Security preparations are underway, ahead of that arraignment, for Trump, here in Washington, tomorrow. Secret Service, seen at the courthouse, a line already outside. Is Washington ready? We'll talk about that next.



COLLINS: Tonight, the U.S. Secret Service is conducting a sweep, of the Federal Courthouse, here in Washington. Typical for what they do, when someone, like a former President, is going to be arraigned, tomorrow, taking those precautions. That comes, as law enforcement officials tell CNN, they are also monitoring, for potential threats, protests, and online chatter.

I should note that where Trump is going to be, tomorrow, for this arraignment, which we are told, is going to happen, at 4 PM Eastern, is the same courthouse, in Washington, where you have seen so many, of the January 6 defendants, prosecuted, of course.

Thank you, for joining us.

"CNN PRIMETIME" with Laura Coates, starts, right now.