Attorney General Bill Barr broke with the White House’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election on Tuesday, telling the Associated Press that the Department of Justice had not uncovered any evidence of widespread voter fraud that could potentially swing the contest in Donald Trump’s favor. While the president and his self-dubbed “elite strike force” legal team responded by lashing out at Barr, others noted that losing one of the president’s most loyal cabinet members felled one of the final pillars of Trump’s false election victory claims.
According to the latest report, Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have had followed up on specific complaints and information pertaining to voting irregularities, but have not seen any evidence to support the notion that fraud took place on a scale that would affect President-elect Joe Biden’s win.
“To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election,” Barr said.
The attorney general, despite his prior instruction, noted that such claims don’t necessarily fall under the purview of the DOJ.
“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.
“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. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that,” Barr said, seemingly referencing former Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell’s anti-Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit.
Moments after the news of Barr’s comments broke, President Trump reiterated more false claims that he only lost the election due to widespread voter fraud.
“Hope everybody is watching [One America News Network] OANN right now. Other media afraid to show. People are coming forward like never before. Large truck carrying hundreds of thousands of fraudulent (FAKE) ballots to a voting center? TERRIBLE – SAVE AMERICA!” the president tweeted.
Hope everybody is watching @OANN right now. Other media afraid to show. People are coming forward like never before. Large truck carrying hundreds of thousands of fraudulent (FAKE) ballots to a voting center? TERRIBLE – SAVE AMERICA!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 1, 2020
Trump campaign lawyers, particularly former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, similarly refused to take Barr’s word for it, releasing a statement alleging that the DOJ didn’t take their unsubstantiated claims seriously.
“With all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance of a Department of Justice investigation,” the statement read. “We have gathered ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined. We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ.”
They said that Barr’s opinion “appears to be without any knowledge or investigation of the substantial irregularities and evidence of systematic fraud.”
Attorneys that don’t represent the president, on the other hand, had significantly different reactions.
“I can’t believe I’m going to say this: Good job Bill Barr,” wrote UNC law professor Carissa Byrne Hessick.
I can't believe that I'm going to say this:
Good job Bill Barr https://t.co/qf0fOBFjdi
— Carissa Byrne Hessick (@CBHessick) December 1, 2020
Civil rights attorney R. Andrew Free took an apparent swipe at Powell’s “Kraken” lawsuit with a Hugo Chavez barb, writing, “Always knew [Barr] was in cahoots with Chavez.”
Always knew he was in cahoots with Chavez.
— R. Andrew Free (@ImmCivilRights) December 1, 2020
Attorney Adrienne Lawrence joked, “The way William Barr is out here speaking truth we can presume he doesn’t need a pardon.”
The way William Barr is out here speaking truth we can presume he doesn't need a pardon. https://t.co/BBsmV3Ieve
— Adrienne Lawrence (@AdrienneLaw) December 1, 2020
Others said that Barr’s break from the president’s reality was “too little, too late.”
Somebody's in CYA mode ….
Too little, too late.https://t.co/ueMVH9J5uV
— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) December 1, 2020
The comments from Barr came on the same day it was reported for the first time that he appointed John Durham as special counsel on October 19, 2020.
Republicans said that move was evidence that they will “never stop fighting for the truth.”
We will never stop fighting for the truth.https://t.co/zdG1D8Y2eS
— Rep. Doug Collins (@RepDougCollins) December 1, 2020
Parler appears to have forgotten pretty quickly about Barr’s appointment of Durham, however.
I'm drinking in their tears…. https://t.co/mcG53Pp18n
— Bradley P. Moss (@BradMossEsq) December 1, 2020
Barr reportedly met with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows earlier in the afternoon.
Attorney General Barr is in the West Wing for a meeting with Mark Meadows, an official says. The meeting was planned before his interview with the Associated Press.
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) December 1, 2020
[image via Chip Somodevilla_Getty Images]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]