- Bill Barr says no one but Steve Bannon knew of Trump's plans to stay in office in 2020.
- "I don't know anyone else who heard of it — except, it appears, Steve Bannon," Barr told Bari Weiss.
- Bannon said in October 2020 audio obtained by Mother Jones that Trump would "just declare victory.:
Former Attorney General Bill Barr said no one but Steve Bannon knew of President Donald Trump's plans to prematurely declare victory on election night in 2020.
Barr, speaking on writer Bari Weiss' podcast, said it was a "mystery" to him why people were suggesting Trump would try to stay in office if he lost the 2020 election.
"I thought they were setting the stage for a close election that Trump won and claiming that he had stolen the election…but I had never heard of some plan to stay in office, I don't know anyone else who heard of it — except, it appears, Steve Bannon had heard of it," Barr said.
Barr was referring to leaked audio obtained by Mother Jones of Bannon, speaking on October 31, 2020, saying that Trump would preemptively declare victory in the 2020 election before all the votes were counted.
"What Trump's gonna do, is just declare victory. Right? He's gonna declare victory. But that doesn't mean he's a winner," Bannon said in the audio from that day. "He's just gonna say he's a winner."
Bannon also predicted there would be riots and violence from Antifa — a left-wing movement of anti-facists — at the White House on election night, saying, "They think there's gonna be 20 or 25,000 Antifa will surround the White House, particularly if Trump is leaving."
"I don't know where it came from. It could have been preparing the ground if you lose, and I think both sides were doing it," Barr said.
Barr testified about Trump's efforts to stay in power in 2020 before the House January 6 Committee. But Bannon, a onetime Trump adviser and GOP strategist who hosts the popular War Room podcast defied a subpoena from the committee and was charged with contempt of Congress by the Department of Justice. Bannon was convicted after a trial in July and is set to be sentenced in October.
Barr said on the podcast that he "underestimated" how far Trump would go in his quest to overturn the 2020 election and stay in office. Barr gave Trump his resignation as attorney general in mid-December after all states had certified their votes and the Electoral College voted to elect President Joe Biden.
"I thought it was safe to leave at that point, and I was wrong," Barr said. "I did not expect him to take it as far as he did with these very whacky legal theories that no one gave any credence to."
Antifa did not descend on Washington. But, true to Bannon's first prediction, Trump declared victory shortly after 2 a.m. on election night in remarks in the East Room where he baselessly claimed the election was tainted by massive fraud and said, "frankly, we did win this election."
"Suggesting there was major fraud as early as he did, in retrospect, looks to me like that was the plan on election night," Barr said.