William Barr, former attorney general under President Donald Trump, had a few choice words for his boss ahead of his defeat in the 2020 presidential election: “The main problem is you think you're a [expletive] genius, politically."

This exchange was part of a contentious argument recorded by journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa that took place in April 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic exploded onto the scene. In a conversation at the White House, Barr tried to warn Trump that his re-election chances were fading and he would have only himself to blame.

Barr, panned for his unwavering loyalty to Trump during the investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 election, did not mince words.

"In my opinion 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 a--hole," Barr told Trump in the Oval Office. The attorney general then advised Trump “to start taking that into account.”

Barr appeared to be sincerely trying to guide the mercurial president to take seriously that he was undermining his own odds of victory, even before President Joe Biden was named the Democratic Party’s nominee. Like others before him, Barr was shouting to the wind and his blunt attempts to dissuade Trump reflected a sense of desperation.

"Your base cares about seeing [former FBI director James Comey] and the rest of those guys held accountable, but these other people don't," Barr said, according to the book. "They don't care about your [expletive] grievances. And it just seems that every time you're out there, you're talking about your [expletive] grievances."

Accounts of Barr’s deteriorating relationship with Trump during the last year of his presidency have been thoroughly documented since he resigned in December 2020. In an interview with ABC News’ Jonathan Karl, Trump soured on Barr for his statement refuting claims that the election was rigged after the Department of Justice found no evidence to support them.

According to Barr, Trump was so enraged he began to refer to himself in the third person: “You must hate Trump. You must hate Trump,” the president was said to have fumed to Barr.

The story of Barr’s attempts to limit Trump’s self-destructiveness at the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic follows excerpts from Woodward and Costa about General Mark Milley’s attempts to thwart a maddened Trump from making a drastic military move at the end of his presidency.

Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reportedly called his counterpart in China in October 2020 to warn him about overreacting to any reports out of Washington about a potential military strike.

On Jan. 8, 2021, two days after pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol in a futile bid to stop the certification of then-President-elect Biden’s victory, Milley warned an assembled group of flag officers to not follow any orders related to nuclear weapons without his involvement.

The four-star general has been assailed by Trump and his supporters for his actions as documented by Woodward and Costa. Trump referred to the acts as “treason,” a charge echoed by supporters like Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., as others called for more answers. Milley is set to testify alongside Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Sept. 28 in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Biden has reiterated his faith in Milley and the chairman’s spokesperson defended the appropriateness as well as the legality of his actions.