Charlie Sykes: Bill Barr Makes Me 'Gag'—But Praise Him For Denouncing Trump

June 19th, 2023 2:23 PM

Charlie Sykes MSNBC Morning Joe 6-19-23File this one under our "Sudden Respect" rubric--though a very grudging respect at that. On Monday's Morning Joe, Never Trumper and very frequent MSNBC contributor Charlie Sykes praised Bill Barr, Donald Trump's former Attorney General, for the blistering criticism he made of Trump during his Face The Nation appearance on Sunday.

But Sykes couldn't resist taking a nasty shot at Barr for his perceived past sins of supporting Trump. MSNBC played a montage of former Trump officials from Mike Pence to Mark Esper (and anti-Trump Republicans from Asa Hutchinson to ex-Gov. Larry Hogan) There's just a short excerpt of Barr in the montage. 

Said Sykes:

"Bill Barr, you need a healthy gag reflex to, you know, sort of accept him. But, you know, coming from Bill Barr, this is extraordinary. This is not on my bingo card for 2023. That he would be the most vociferous and effective critic of Donald Trump."

So Barr makes Sykes want to puke. But since he's willing to light into Trump, all is forgiven.


Mika Brzezinski later circles back, and plays an extended excerpt from Barr's comments. 

Says Mika Brzezinski in reaction: "Oh my God! That's worse than I thought."

And by "worse," Mika of course means, better!

Charlie Sykes prefacing his praise of Bill Barr by saying "you need a healthy gag reflex to accept him" was sponsored in part by Trivago, Apple, maker of iPhone, and T-Mobile.   

Here's the transcript.

Morning Joe
6:00 am EDT

MIKE PENCE: Donald Trump's position on the national debt is identical to Joe Biden's.

RON DESANTIS: There have been promises made about draining the swamp, building the wall, doing all these things, you know. None of that came to fruition.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: He's a petulant child when someone disagrees with him.

BILL BARR: He's also a fundamentally flawed person who engages in reckless conduct.

JOHN BOLTON: I don't need to read the indictment or believe its allegations are true, although I'm pretty confident they are.

MARK ESPER: Clearly, it was unauthorized, illegal and dangerous.

ASA HUTCHINSON: I view them serious and disqualifying, actually, for a Commander-in-Chief.

LARRY HOGAN: Anybody who doesn't want to look at the facts, they should be disqualified from running, not just Trump.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: So many of those people that were saying that worked for him. You had his attorney general. You had his national security adviser. You had his secretary of defense. You had his top ranking officials. All Republicans. All supporters of Donald Trump. All people that stood by him until January 6th. 

They're the ones criticizing him, not like left-wingers

. . . 

CHARLIE SYKES: We don't know whether the cumulative weight of all of this will make a difference, but that montage you played at the beginning was really quite extraordinary. Because those are voices from within the Republican party, and from within the Trump administration saying, look, we were in the room with this guy. This is who he is. This is how he's behaved. And this is where he's wrong. And we need to move on.

Now, again, I don't know whether that's going to make a difference. It hasn't made a difference so far. But, to your point, this is extraordinary, an extraordinary moment. No president has ever had this many former cabinet members, former top aides, people who had been, you know, intimate associates of his administration, now coming out and saying, this man is not fit be President of the United States.

Now look, a lot of these guys, Bill Barr, you need a healthy gag reflex to, you know, sort of accept him. But, you know, coming from Bill Barr, this is extraordinary. This is not on my bingo card for 2023.


SYKES: That he would be the most vociferous and effective critic of Donald Trump.

. . . 

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Here is more of attorney general, former attorney general Bill Barr unleashing a new, scathing assessment of Donald Trump's conduct related to the classified documents case.

BARR: This is not a circumstance where he's the victim, or this is government overreach. He provoked this whole problem himself. 

Yes, he's been the victim of unfair witch hunts in the past. But that does not obviatie the fact that he's also a fundamentally flawed person, who engages in reckless conduct that leads to such situations, calamitous situations like this. Which are very destructive and hurt any political cause he's associated with. And this was a case entirely of his own making.

ROBERT COSTA: How strong is the special counsel's case on obstruction,specifically?

BARR: Well, it's very strong, because a lot of the evidence comes from his own lawyers. And furthermore, there's evidence of him saying things that are completely incompatible with any idea that this was an innocent document dispute.

COSTA: Do you believe he lied to the Justice Department?

BARR: Do I personally believe it? Yes, I do. The legal theory by which he gets to take battle plans, and sensitive national security information as his personal papers is absurd. It's just as wacky as the legal doctrine they came up with for having the Vice President unilaterally determine who won the election. 

Trump has, you know, many good qualities, and he accomplished some good things. But the fact of the matter is, he is a consummate narcissist, and he constantly engages in reckless conduct that puts his political followers at risk, and the conservative and Republican agenda at risk.

He will always put his own interest and gratifying his own ego ahead of everything else, including the country's interest. There's no question about it. This is a perfect example of that.

He's like a 9-year-old, a defiant 9-year-old kid who's always pushing the glass toward the edge of the table, defying his parents to stop him from doing it. It's a means of self-assertion and exerting his dominance over other people. And he's a very petty individual who will always put his interests ahead of the country's. His personal gratification of his, you know, his ego.

But our country, our country can't, you know, be a therapy session for, you know, a troubled man like this.

MIKA: Oh, my God! That's worse than I thought.