U.S. Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday that the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
Barr’s comments come despite President Donald Trump’s repeated claims that the Nov. 3 election was stolen and his refusal to concede his loss to president-elect Joe Biden.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Barr said U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but they’ve uncovered no evidence that would change the outcome of the election.
“To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election,” he said.
The comments are especially direct coming from Barr, who has been one of the president’s most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as people in the U.S. feared going to the polls and instead chose to vote by mail.
Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities, if they existed, before the presidential election was certified — despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.
That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around long-standing Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified.
Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.
Trump files lawsuit in Wisconsin
The Trump campaign’s legal team, led by Rudy Giuliani, has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence.
The legal team also responded to Barr’s comments, saying the Justice Department didn’t do enough to investigate voter fraud allegations.
Statement of Trump Legal Team on Bill Barr’s Comments on Voter Fraud. <a href=”https://t.co/SlZRKStbri”>pic.twitter.com/SlZRKStbri</a>
They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed, including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence. Local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making similar unsupported claims.
Most recently, Trump filed a lawsuit in Wisconsin on Tuesday seeking to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two most Democratic counties, a longshot attempt to overturn Biden’s win in the battleground state that Trump lost by nearly 20,700 votes.
The president filed the day after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and the chair of the Wisconsin Elections Commission certified Biden as the winner of the state’s 10 electoral college votes. Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, rather than have it start in a lower court, and order Evers to withdraw the certification.
Trump is running out of time to have his legal cases heard. The electoral college is scheduled to meet on Dec. 14, and Congress is to count the votes on Jan. 6.
WATCH | Trump says he’ll step down if electoral college votes for Biden:
Trump is not challenging any ballots cast in conservative counties he won. The Biden campaign issued a statement calling the lawsuit “completely baseless and not rooted in facts on the ground.”
“The hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites targeted by this lawsuit did nothing wrong,” Biden campaign spokesperson Nate Evans said. “They simply followed long-standing guidance from elections officials issued under the law.”
Trump contradicts administration with allegations
Trump has railed against the election in tweets and in interviews, even though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. Trump recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he has still refused to admit he lost.
The issues Trump’s campaign and its allies have pointed to are typical in every election: problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost. They’ve also requested federal probes into the claims.
Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez” — the former Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.
Barr didn’t name Powell specifically but 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,” he said.
He said people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. Such a remedy for those complaints would be a top-down audit conducted by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department, he said
“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all, and [if] people don’t like something, they want the Department of Justice to come in and `investigate,”‘ Barr said.
He said first of all there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.
“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. They are not systemic allegations. And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on.”