Even the Justice Dept concedes Barr's voter-fraud claims were wrong

The attorney general made a series of claims related to voter access and alleged fraud. Each of those claims was false.
Image: William Barr
Attorney General William Barr appears before the House Oversight Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, on July 28, 2020.Matt McClain / The Washington Post via AP file
By Steve Benen

Attorney General Bill Barr made more than a few unfortunate comments during his interview this week with CNN's Wolf Blitzer this week, but some of his most egregious falsehoods related to voter access and the 2020 elections.

Barr argued, for example, "Elections that have been held with mail have found substantial fraud and coercion." There's simply no way any reasonable person could look at the evidence and conclude that his statement is true. The attorney general added that "logic" tells him that foreign actors could interfere with vote-by-mail systems through fraudulent ballots. That's absurd, too.

But as part of the same set of comments, Barr told a national television audience that 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?"

As it turns out, no, it's not OK. The Washington Post reported overnight:

Federal prosecutors brought no such indictment. And while a Justice Department spokeswoman said Barr was referring to a local prosecution involving suspected mail-in voting fraud in a city council election, the assistant district attorney on that case said Barr’s description doesn’t match the facts. “That’s not what happened at all,” said Andy Chatham, who is now in private practice.

A separate report added, "The Texas case Barr cited as proof involves one fraudulent ballot, which was caught, not 1,700."

A Justice Department spokesperson conceded, “Prior to his interview, the Attorney General was provided a memo prepared within the Department that contained an inaccurate summary about the case which he relied upon when using the case as an example."

Whether that's actually what happened or not is unclear, and the statement appeared designed to shift blame away from Barr for peddling a story that was wildly wrong.

But the fact remains that the attorney general made a series of claims related to voter access and alleged fraud, and each of those claims was false. Given the fact that Barr didn't exactly have credibility to spare, this won't help the Republican's tarnished reputation.