Breaking his post-election silence, Attorney General Bill Barr on Monday has authorized officials at the Justice Department to “pursue substantial allegations of voting and vote tabulation irregularities” in the 2020 election before its certification process next month.
In a two-page memo, Barr wrote that investigations should be “conducted if there are clear and apparently credible allegations of irregularities that, if true, could potentially impact the outcome of a federal election in an individual state.” On allegations claims, Barr stated those that didn’t impact the outcome should be “be deferred until after the election” are certified, in which investigators will be allowed to open “preliminary inquiry” to “assess whether available evidence warrants further investigative” measures.
“While most allegations of purported election misconduct are of such a scale that they would not impact the outcome of an election and, thus, investigation can appropriately be deferred that is not always the case,” Barr wrote. “Furthermore, any concerns that overt actions taken by the Department could inadvertently impact an election are greatly minimized, if they exist at all, once voting has concluded, even if election certification has not yet been completed.”
He advised prosecutors that serious allegations concerning voter fraud “should be handled with great care” while “specious, speculative, fanciful or far-fetched claims should not be a basis for initiating federal inquiries.”
“While serious allegations should be handled with great care, specious, speculative, fanciful or far-fetched claims should not be a basis for initiating federal inquiries,” Barr wrote. “Nothing here should be taken as any indication that the Department has concluded that voting irregularities have impacted the outcome of any election.”
In September, Barr sounded the alarm of election fraud vulnerability resulting from widespread use of mail-in ballots amid the coronavirus pandemic. He cited a 2005 report by the Commission on Federal Election Reform which concluded that absentee ballots are the largest source of potential voter fraud.
“This is playing with fire. We’re a very closely divided country here. People trying to change the rules to this methodology, which, as a matter of logic, is very open to fraud and coercion. It’s reckless and dangerous, and people are playing with fire,” Barr said in an interview with CNN on Sept 2.
A Justice Department official said the move by Barr was not prompted at the direction of President Trump, the White House, or any Republican lawmakers.
Biden declared victory on Saturday after several news media organizations announced the Democrat candidate the winner based on tabulated election returns.
The Trump campaign has filed a dozen legal challenges in several battleground states that are still counting mail-in ballots a week after Election Day. Investigators at the Justice Department are now looking into the matter after lawyers for the Trump campaign sent a letter after an Obama appointee judge dismissed their lawsuit last Friday that found “lax procedures for authenticating ballots” occurring in Clark County with more than 3,000 ballots had been cast by ineligible voters who moved out of states, including some ballots being cast by “deceased voters.”
On Monday, the Trump campaign filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania alleging the creation and implementation of an illegal “two-tiered” voting system. The “two-track” system, according to suit resulted in-person voters being held to different standards compared to the state’s mail-in voting. The lawyers cited two Constitutional violations — Equal Protection Clause violation, and Elections and Electors Clauses violation as their main bases of the suit.
As judges recently tossed out lawsuits in counties of Michigan and Georgia, the Trump campaign have indicated they are willing to appeal those decisions by state court and all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.
Biden campaign attorney Bob Bauer called the move by Barr a “cynical partisan political scheme,” saying the memo will only fuel the Trump Campaign of “specious, speculative, fanciful or far-fetched” allegation of fraud claims.
“Those are the very kind of claims that the president and his lawyers are making unsuccessfully every day, as their lawsuits are laughed out of one court after another,” Bauer said. “But, in the end, American democracy is stronger than any clumsy and cynical partisan political scheme.”
States have until Dec. 8 to resolve election disputes, including recounts and court contests over the results. Members of the Electoral College will meet on Dec. 14 to vote and finalize the election outcome.