Bill Barr said Trump might not have left office if DOJ hadn't investigated baseless voter fraud claims.
"I sort of shudder to think what the situation would have been" without the inquiries, Barr said.
Barr has featured prominently in the opening House January 6 committee hearings.
Former Attorney General William Barr said he was "not sure we would have had a transition at all" if the Justice Department had not investigated Donald Trump's claims of widespread voter fraud and found them baseless.
In a closed-door deposition, Barr suggested to the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol that Trump might not have left office voluntarily if DOJ had not proactively examined the election fraud claims ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration.
"I sort of shudder to think what the situation would have been if the position of the department was: We're not even going to look at this until after Biden's in office," Barr said in the recorded deposition, a portion of which the committee aired Thursday at a hearing focused on Trump's effort to pressure the Justice Department to advance his false election fraud claims.
Barr sat for a deposition with the House January 6 committee in early June, shortly before the congressional panel began holding public hearings. The House committee has featured footage from that interview prominently, turning Barr - who said he would vote for Trump again over a Democrat - into an unlikely star of the high-profile hearings.
At the first hearing, on June 9, the House committee played footage from Barr's deposition in which the former attorney general recalled telling Trump that his election claims were "bullshit."
On Thursday, the committee played a portion of the deposition in which investigators asked Barr why he had authorized election fraud investigations at all rather than "follow the regular course of action and let the investigations occur much later in time."
Barr said he believed the "responsible thing to do was to be in a position to have a view as to whether or not there was fraud."
"Frankly, I think the fact that I put myself in the position that I could say that we had looked at this and didn't think there was fraud was really important," he added.