WASHINGTON – Former Attorney General William Barr has called President Donald Trump’s actions a “betrayal of his office and supporters” after pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol.
In a statement obtained by NBC News Thursday, Barr said Trump was responsible for “orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress,” calling his former boss’ actions “inexcusable.”
The Associated Press first reported the news.
Barr, who ran the Department of Justice, was one of Trump’s most loyal defenders in the president’s Cabinet. He left the Trump administration last month after publicly breaking with the president over election fraud claims.
In early December, Barr said the Department of Justice had not found any evidence of widespread voter or election fraud that would result in overturning Democrat Joe Biden’s victory.
Biden’s election victory was confirmed by Congress in the early hours of Thursday after the Capitol had been secured from rioting Trump supporters.
Barr’s searing comments come a day after the rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, forcing Congress to recess from the joint session that was scheduled to formally announce Biden’s victory in November’s election.
The pandemonium at the U.S. Capitol resulted in the deaths of four people. Sixty-eight people were arrested last night, only one of whom was actually from D.C., according to Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee. Of those arrests, 41 occurred on Capitol grounds.
More than 50 U.S. Capitol Police and D.C. police officers sustained injuries during the attack on the Capitol, wrote Steven Sund, chief of U.S. Capitol Police. Sund described Wednesday’s events as “criminal riotous behavior.”
“The violent attack on the U.S. Capitol was unlike any I have ever experienced in my 30 years in law enforcement here in Washington, D.C.,” Sund said.
The FBI asked the public on Thursday to help identify people who took part in the pro-Trump riots at the U.S. Capitol.
A Department of Justice official told CNBC’s Eamon Javers that “a number of criminal charges” were expected to be announced on Thursday.
In a statement Thursday, Department of Homeland Security’s acting secretary, Chad Wolf, called the events that unfolded at the U.S. Capitol “tragic and sickening.”
“Any appearance of inciting violence by an elected official goes against who we are as Americans. Every American is guaranteed the right to peacefully protest, but once those protests become violent, we should enforce our laws and bring those responsible to justice—regardless of political motivations,” Wolf wrote.
In a tweet Wednesday, Wolf wrote that those who engaged in the rioting should be held accountable.
Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said: “The violence to our Nation’s Capitol Building is an intolerable attack on a fundamental institution of our democracy.”
Earlier Wednesday, the Department of Justice sent hundreds of federal law enforcement officers and agents from the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Marshals Service to help quell protests.
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