Former Attorney General Bill Barr said the debate over the integrity of the election "precipitated the riots" at the Capitol.
Barr made his comments during an interview with ITV News on Monday.
"I think it's always important to remember that most people are exercising their First Amendment rights, but there's a substantial group, obviously, that went far beyond that and broke into the Capitol and tried to interfere with the proceedings. And that's unacceptable."
He cautioned: "Regardless of which side of the political spectrum is involved, we just cannot tolerate violence interfering with the processes of government."
Barr, however, would not categorize the violence as "inevitable."
But he said: "I think that when you start suppressing free speech, when people lose confidence in the media, and also when they lose faith in the integrity of elections — you are going to have some people resort to violence.
"I'm sad to see, but not surprised in a way, to see the kind of violence we saw on Capitol Hill. I consider it despicable."
Barr had reportedly dismissed President Donald Trump's claims that the 2020 presidential election was "stolen" during a meeting in December, according to Axios.
At the Dec. 1 meeting with Trump and White House counsel Pat Cipollone, Barr reportedly said the president's theories about the election being stolen were false.
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