In April of 2020, then-Attorney General William Barr explained to Donald Trump what he thought about the president’s chances of winning a second term in office, and what he told Trump almost certainly enraged him.
Business Insider reports that based on the new book, Peril, written by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, Barr’s analysis of why Trump likely had little chance of reelection was bracingly honest:
“In my opinion,” Barr told Trump during a tense Oval Office meeting, according to the book, “this is not a base election. Your base is critical, and you’ll get it out. And there are a lot of people out there, independents and Republicans in the suburbs of the critical states that think you’re an asshole. They think you act like an asshole and you got to, you got to start taking that into account.”
Indeed, Trump was said to be obsessed with winning by turning out his most eager supporters, but others reportedly warned him that wouldn’t be enough to carry him to victory. Despite that, Trump never tried to reach out to independents or moderate Republican, many of whom he publicly chastised for not being with him on every single issue.
Barr also told Trump that his sense of how the nation was leaning was mistaken and would lead to his defeat:
The attorney general went on to tell the president that he had become a Beltway “captive” and needed to appeal to a broader group of voters than just his diehard base, the book said.
Barr is said to have debated how best to approach the conversation with Trump last year, while the US was grappling with a deadly and widespread pandemic and as the president refused to acknowledge the reality of the threat.
According to “Peril,” he decided the best option was to be direct and told Trump that with the way he was handling things, “you’re going to lose” the election.
The solution, Barr believed, was for Trump to focus on the issues that mattered most to Americans: The COVID-19 pandemic and faltering economy, “not all this other shit, not every grievance you have.”
In the end, Trump refused to accept Barr’s advice, telling the AG, “I need to be a fighter. I’ve gotten where I am because I’m willing to fight.”
But all that fighting only succeeded in making Trump a failed, one-term, twice-impeached loser. And while he may think he can run again in 2024 and win, deep in what passes for his heart he knows he’ll lose if he tries. He’s destined to be one of the biggest failures in U.S. history.