Attorney General William Barr has authorized federal
prosecutors across the U.S. to pursue “substantial allegations” of voting
irregularities, if they exist, before the 2020 presidential election is
certified, despite little evidence of fraud, according to Talking Points Memo.
Barr’s action comes days after Democrat Joe Biden
defeated President Donald Trump and raises the prospect that Trump will use the
Justice Department to try to challenge the outcome. It gives prosecutors the
ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would
prohibit such overt actions before the election is certified.
Trump has not conceded the election and is instead
claiming without evidence that there has been a widespread, multi-state
conspiracy by Democrats to skew the vote tally in Biden’s favor.
Biden holds a sizable lead in multiple battleground
states and there has been no indication of enough improperly counted or
illegally cast votes that would shift the outcome. In fact, election officials
from both political parties have publicly stated the election went well, though
there have been minor issues that are typical in elections, including voting
machines breaking and ballots that were miscast and lost.
In a memo to U.S. attorneys, obtained by The
Associated Press, Barr wrote that investigations “may 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
He said any allegations that “clearly not impact the
outcome of a federal election” should be delayed until after those elections
are certified and prosecutors should likely open so-called preliminary
inquiries, which would allow investigators and prosecutors to see if there is
evidence that would allow them to take further investigative measures.
Barr does not identify any specific instances of
purported fraud in the memo.
“While it is imperative that credible allegations be
addressed in a timely and effective manner, it is equally imperative that
Department personnel exercise appropriate caution and maintain the Department’s
absolute commitment to fairness, neutrality and non-partisanship,” Barr wrote.
States have until Dec. 8 to resolve election
disputes, including recounts and court contests over the results. Members of
the Electoral College meet Dec. 14 to finalize the outcome.
Barr, a loyal ally of President Donald Trump, helped broadcast Trump’s claims of voter fraud before the election, attacking mail-in voting as prone to undue influence and coercion, despite multiple studies debunking the notion of pervasive voter fraud in general and in the vote-by-mail process.
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