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Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales On Trump's Election Legal Battle

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'd like to bring in a legal expert here. This is Alberto Gonzales. He served as White House counsel and then attorney general in the administration of George W. Bush. He's now dean of the law school at Belmont University and he is with us now from Nashville, Tenn. Mr. Attorney General, Your Honor, Dean - you have so many hats - welcome. Thank you so much for joining us.

ALBERTO GONZALES: Well, it really is a historic day, isn't it? So it's - I think it's time to rally around our new president. I certainly hope that he's successful. We - our country needs a successful president, someone that can lead us and guide us through these enormous challenges that confront our country. So I'm hopeful. And I'm delighted that this election season appears to be over. Certainly the president is - President Trump is entitled to challenge if he believes that some of the votes were, you know, fraudulent. I think most experts and certainly all that I have heard that are experts in the election field believe that that would be sort of a fruitless effort. But obviously, he's entitled to do what he thinks is right.

MARTIN: Well, I do want to note that your expertise says you are a former judge. As I mentioned, you have sort of a deep background in these matters. You're not an election lawyer, per se, but do you see any basis for these - the president's complaints and claims, which I have to note started, you know, well before the voting actually took place? Do you see any basis for his complaints, for example, claiming that mail-in voting would lead to more more fraud? Do you see any fact basis for that?

GONZALES: No. Obviously, you know, I haven't been in these various election centers and talked to people, but certainly I've viewed a lot of coverage and there's been a lot of inquiry, examination of the process, speaking to election officials. And, you know, it all seems like this is probably one of the the best-run election cycles that we've seen in quite some time, which is truly remarkable given the size of the vote and also, of course, given the issue relating to the pandemic. So no. Listen. Obviously some people probably made a - there may be some mistakes in some of the ballots. There may, you know - we got poll workers that are exhausted. And so there may be some mistakes here and there, but certainly not enough to overturn an election given the numbers that's being reported.

MARTIN: What should the attorney general's role be in this at this time? I mean, I do have to note that in the lead up to the election, Attorney General William Barr claimed without any evidence that we are aware of that mail-in voting would lead to more fraud. And there are some of the president's supporters who are calling for him to intervene. What do you think the attorney general's role should be at a time like this?

GONZALES: I'm not going to speak to what I think General Barr should do. However, I can't imagine if I were the attorney general that I would be expected or asked by - if this were the Bush administration seeking a second term and I was the attorney general - it's hard for me to imagine that I I would be asked to intervene. And, quite frankly, if I were asked to intervene, I would politely inform the president that I didn't think that would be appropriate.

MARTIN: And before we let you go, Mr. Attorney General, as an officer of the court, as a person - as a former judge, as I mentioned, as a person who's had this deep background in adjudicating very sensitive matters of - what do you think - what would lower the temperature in your view?

GONZALES: I think if President Trump would concede before President-elect Biden's speech tonight, that would send a tremendous signal. I think it would boost the reputation of President Trump. I think that would certainly lower the temperature if he would do what is the right thing to do, which historically has been, you know, you lose the election, you concede the election, and you call for the country to unite. That's important. It would be important for him to ask his supporters to come together. Let's unite. And let's move forward together as one country.

MARTIN: That's the former attorney general of the United States, Alberto Gonzales. And you're listening to live Special Coverage from NPR News. Attorney General, thank you so much for talking to us.

GONZALES: You bet. Thanks. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Corrected: November 11, 2020 at 12:00 AM EST
An earlier headline misstated Alberto Gonzales' first name as Albert.