- Attorney General Bill Barr said Tuesday that the Justice Department and the FBI had not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.
- “To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election,” Barr told The Associated Press.
- Barr is the latest Republican official to break ranks with President Donald Trump over the president’s allegations that substantial voter fraud led to an illegitimate election outcome.
- The attorney general’s statement is particularly significant given that he fanned Trump’s conspiracy theories by baselessly claiming that foreign countries could tamper with mail ballots and contribute to a fraudulent election.
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Attorney General Bill Barr on Tuesday said the Justice Department and the FBI had not uncovered voter fraud at a level that would alter the 2020 election results.
“To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election,” Barr told The Associated Press.
Two of President Donald Trump’s lawyers, Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, later rebuked Barr in a statement.
“With all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been a semblance of a Department of Justice investigation,” they said. “We have gathered ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”
Barr appeared to preempt that argument in his AP interview, saying the court system rather than the DOJ is the best venue for the Trump campaign to pursue its legal claims.
“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all, and people don’t like something they want the Department of Justice to come in and ‘investigate,'” Barr said.
He added that “most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct” and “are not systemic allegations.”
The statement from Barr, one of Trump’s most stalwart defenders, could draw the president’s ire in the waning days of his administration. It’s especially significant given that Barr spent months fanning the president’s conspiracy theories about how an increase in mail-in voting this year would lead to a fraudulent election outcome.
Specifically, Barr speculated that foreign countries could tamper with mail ballots, a claim that election experts and US intelligence officials found no evidence to support.
In October, Barr drew backlash for authorizing federal prosecutors who suspect election-related offenses to take public investigative steps, even if those steps could alter the outcome of the election. Barr’s change to longstanding DOJ policy prompted the resignation of Richard Pilger, the head of the department’s election-crimes unit.
The DOJ was also criticized for its handling of a case in September involving a small number of military absentee ballots in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.
The department released two short and ambiguous statements saying ballots had been “discarded” in Luzerne County, sparking confusion and inflaming conspiracy theories about voter fraud. Former prosecutors and election experts said the DOJ’s decision to release information about an ongoing investigation and mention who the ballots were cast for was highly unusual and undermined voters’ right to a secret ballot.
Shortly after, the DOJ and Luzerne County officials said the error was inadvertent and appeared to be the result of undertrained workers mistaking ballot envelopes for envelopes containing absentee-ballot applications.
Since November 3, the Trump campaign and Republican officials have filed more than two dozen election lawsuits across the country and haven’t won a single case. The six battleground states that decided the election — Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Nevada — also certified their election results, cementing President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Meanwhile, Trump has lashed out at administration officials and Republican lawmakers who refused to support his allegations of a rigged election.
The Republican lawyers Lin Wood and Sidney Powell have also claimed, without any credible evidence, that the election results were hacked or rigged with computers that erased or swapped votes.
Trump and his allies also targeted an election vendor, Dominion Voting Systems, with baseless claims that the company was responsible for “switching” votes from Trump to Biden and accused the company of having ties to nefarious communist actors in Venezuela and Cuba. The Colorado-based company has denied all the allegations.
In 2020, more than 90% of US voters used hand-marked paper ballots, ballot-marking devices that produce a paper ballot, or voting machines with voter-verifiable paper receipts. Election experts also told Business Insider that overall, the 2020 election was the safest and most secure in US history.
Barr similarly told the AP that the federal government found no evidence that voting machines or voting systems were tampered with.
“There’s been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results,” Barr said. “And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday predicted that Trump would oust Barr as he’s done with other officials who defied him.
“I guess he’s the next one to be fired,” Schumer told reporters on Capitol Hill.
Following a two-hour meeting with the president on Tuesday nigh, Barr was not fired — but a DOJ spokesperson did try to walk back his earlier statements just enough to provide a glimmer of hope for the president.
“Some media outlets have incorrectly reported that the department has concluded itsi nvestigation of election fraud and announced an affirmative finding of no fraud in the election,” the spokesperson told CBS. “The department will continue to receive and vigorously pursue all specific and credible allegations of fraud as expeditiously as possible.”