According to the Justice Department's guidelines, possible investigations into election irregularities are supposed to wait until after the voting tabulations are complete and the results have been certified. Three weeks ago, however, Attorney General Bill Barr decided to ignore his own department's policies and issue a provocative memo.
Specifically, the outgoing attorney general issued a directive authorizing prosecutors "to pursue substantial allegations of voting and vote tabulation irregularities prior to the certification of elections." Soon after, Richard Pilger, who led the Justice Department's Election Crimes Branch, felt the need to resign in the wake of Barr's memo.
As it turns out, however, the drama was unnecessary. As the Associated Press reports today, even Trump's handpicked attorney general, who's engaged in repeated abuses on the White House's behalf, can't find the evidence the president wants to see.
Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. His comments come despite President Donald Trump's repeated claims that the election was stolen, and his refusal to concede his loss to President-Elect Joe Biden.
Barr told the AP that federal investigators have examined complaints, but they've seen nothing of any real consequence.
"To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election," Barr told the AP. The Republican lawyer added, "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.'"
In case this isn't already painfully obvious, the attorney general's comments are wholly at odds with Trump's claims. Indeed, the president has repeatedly insisted that there's voluminous evidence of systemic fraud -- which no one has seen and which his lawyers have failed to produce in a variety of courtrooms.
But just as notably, these new comments contradict some of Barr's own rhetoric. In a CNN interview in September, the attorney general seemed a little too eager to toe the Republican line, arguing, "Elections that have been held with mail have found substantial fraud and coercion." (That wasn't true.) Barr added that "logic" tells him that foreign actors could interfere with vote-by-mail systems through fraudulent ballots. (That was absurd, too.)
He went to say the Justice Department "indicted someone in Texas -- 1,700 ballots collected from people who could vote, he made them out and voted for the person he wanted to. OK?" (The Justice Department soon after clarified that Barr was mistaken.)
Nevertheless, not long after the Associated Press article ran, the attorney general arrived at the White House. It's a safe bet that the president did not welcome him into the Oval Office with open arms.
About a month before the election, Trump told Fox Business the only way for Barr to succeed in historic fashion would be for the attorney general to try to help the president hold onto political power. "Bill Barr is gonna go down as either greatest attorney general in history of the country, or he's gonna go down as a very sad situation," Trump said in early October.
Evidently, from the failed president's perspective, it's the latter.