Former US Attorney General Bill Barr has said that the federal grand jury subpoenas about the January 6 Capitol riots suggest that Donald Trump and “the people right around him” are being given a “tough look”.
Mr Barr also said in an interview with CBS News on Friday that the distribution of the subpoenas was a “significant event”.
Last week, the federal grand jury investigating the January 6 uprising at the US Capitol of former White House counsel Pat Cipollone and his deputy Patrick Philbin recommended a more rigorous investigation by the Department of Justice and Right of the US.
Mr. Cipollone was part of the legal team that defended Mr. Trump in his first impeachment trial in the House in 2020.
This recent action by the grand jury prompted prosecutors to look at the then-president’s close advisers as potentially crucial witnesses.
“This gives me the impression that they are looking hard at the group at the top, including the president and the people right around him who were involved,” Mr Barr said.
The former US Attorney General was widely regarded as one of Mr Trump’s most loyal administration officials.
But he criticized the former president’s actions on January 6 and even called claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent “bulls***”.
The grand jury met once a week, with Marc Short – former chief of staff to former vice president Mike Pence – testifying in late July and Greg Jacob, Mr Pence’s chief counsel, also interviewed. according to The Washington Post.
In the investigations, prosecutors are reportedly looking into communications with those close to Mr. Trump and his re-election campaign.
While both Mr. Cipollone and Mr. Philbin would be privy to private conversations with Mr. Trump, executive privilege can protect a president’s ability to obtain honest counsel from advisers without fear of immediate public disclosure.
When Mr. Cipollone was interviewed by a separate House committee last month, he declined to discuss his conversations with Mr. Trump, citing executive privilege.
But Mr Barr doubts that prosecutors “could try to get control of the issue of executive privilege”.
“That’s the biggest mountain for them to climb, and the fact that they’re ahead with that suggests to me that they need a decisive resolution — not just on Cipollone — but you know, this would affect the situation. [former White House chief of staff Mark] Meadows and some of the others too,” said Mr Barr.