Former AG William Barr: Trump brought federal prosecution on himself, but shouldn’t face prison time

Former Attorney General William P. Barr says former President Donald Trump’s retention of classified documents is “indefensible,” but he doesn’t think his ex-boss should be imprisoned if he is convicted on federal charges.

“I don’t like the idea of a former president serving time in prison,” Mr. Barr, who led the Justice Department under Mr. Trump, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

Mr. Trump faces more than 30 criminal counts in the indictment that was handed up this month by a grand jury in Miami. It alleges he unlawfully stored classified documents related to nuclear and military secrets, among other papers, at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and then obstructed efforts to return them to the National Archives.

Mr. Trump says he had declassified the documents when he was president, though the indictment presents evidence the ex-president thought it was too late to declassify some of the papers he possessed.

More broadly, Mr. Trump says a series of legal probes against him are designed to thwart his political ambitions. He is fundraising off the allegations and using them as a foil to broaden his appeal on the 2024 campaign trail.

Mr. Barr said while Mr. Trump has been the victim of “unfair witch hunts” in the past, it “doesn’t obviate the fact that he’s also a fundamentally flawed person who engages in reckless conduct that leads to situations, calamitous situations, like this, which are very disruptive and hurt any political cause he’s associated with.”

Mr. Barr took exception with Republicans who say the Justice Department overreached in pursuing Mr. Trump and the documents.

“Their basic argument really isn’t to defend his conduct because Trump’s conduct is indefensible. What they’re really saying is, he should get a pass because Hillary Clinton got a pass six or seven years ago,” he said. “That’s not a frivolous argument. But I’m not sure that’s true. I think if you want to restore the rule of law and equal justice, you don’t do it by further derogating from justice.”

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