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Photo: Michael Reynolds/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Attorney General Bill Barr said the Justice Department always knew Trump's claims of election fraud were "bullsh*t," according to an excerpt from journalist Jonathan Karl's upcoming book published in the The Atlantic.

Why it matters: Barr's new comments come as Trump continues to propagate the lie that the 2020 election was "rigged." Republicans in swing states now are conducting "audits" of election ballots based on false conspiracies about the election.

Flashback: Last December, Barr told the AP: "To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election."

  • That comment infuriated then-President Trump, Barr told the Atlantic. “How the f*ck could you do this to me? Why did you say it?” Trump asked Barr. Barr responded that he said it because it was true.
  • “You must hate Trump. You must hate Trump," Trump said, referring to himself in the 3rd person, according to Barr.

What they're saying: “My attitude was: It was put-up or shut-up time,” Barr told The Atlantic. “If there was evidence of fraud, I had no motive to suppress it. But my suspicion all the way along was that there was nothing there. It was all bullsh*t.”

  • Barr said the department investigated a specific allegation, spread by Trump allies, that ballots were being wheeled into a central precinct in Wayne County, Mich., but found a simple explanation.
  • “In every other county, they count the ballots at the precinct, but in Wayne County, they bring them into one central counting place. So the boxes are coming in all night. The fact that boxes are coming in—well, that’s what they do.”
  • The department also looked into claims that machines were switching votes from Trump to Biden. "“We realized from the beginning it was just bullsh*t."
  • Barr also said that he told Trump the lawyers pursuing legal election fights were a "clown show."

Barr said that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had been urging him to speak out against Trump's false claims since November but would not do so himself. McConnell did not want to upset Trump as he needed Trump to campaign in Georgia.

“Look, we need the president in Georgia,” McConnell said, according to Barr. “And so we cannot be frontally attacking him right now. But you’re in a better position to inject some reality into this situation. You are really the only one who can do it.”

Go deeper

Trump says he'd "beat" DeSantis in 2024 presidential race if he ran

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and President Trump in Belleair, Florida, in July 2020. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump said he'd "beat" Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in a Republican presidential primary in 2024 were he to enter the race, per an interview with Yahoo Business, published Sunday.

Why it matters: Both Trump and DeSantis have been floated as likely 2024 contenders.

Stephanie Grisham says it was a mistake to work for Trump

Then-White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham and John Bolton, then-national security adviser, look on as then-President Trump participates in a meeting in 2019. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Former Trump aide Stephanie Grisham said in an interview with ABC on Monday that it was a mistake to serve in the previous administration.

The big picture: Grisham's new tell-all book about her years working in the White House is out Tuesday. Grisham served as White House press secretary and communications director for former President Trump, and also as former first lady Melania Trump's chief of staff.

Judge: Trump must give deposition in Summer Zervos suit before Christmas

Summer Zervos (right), a former contestant on "The Apprentice," arrives with lawyer Gloria Allred at the New York County Criminal Court in December 2017 in New York. Photo: Kena E. Betancur/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump must submit to a deposition before Christmas for a defamation lawsuit filed by former "Apprentice" contestant Summer Zervos, a New York state court ruled Monday.

Why it matters: This would mark the first time that Trump would have to answer questions in court under oath since he took office in 2017.