It was such an outrageous note that it prompted a senior Justice Department official to resign on the spot. But for Donald Trump’s declining group of loyalists in the White House, that still wasn’t enough.
On Monday, Attorney General Bill Barr “authorized” justice officials to investigate allegations of electoral irregularities. But his memo practically admitted that there was little to no evidence of such voter fraud. The document warned that “specious, speculative, fanciful or far-fetched claims should not serve as a basis for opening federal investigations” and that “nothing here should be taken as an indication that the ministry has concluded that voting irregularities have occurred. had an impact on the election result. “
The memo sparked a new wave of criticism that the president and his allies were prepared to sacrifice the country’s democratic foundations in the pursuit of power. However, even these steps were not enough to satisfy the Trump team. Shortly after Barr’s statement was broken, officials close to the president and working on his re-election effort said they believed the note could give the president and Rudy Giuliani yet another element to incorporate into their message of war on free and fair election results, but that he would not prove to be the legal game changer they needed.
“It’s not what some of us wanted. It’s not what I wanted, ”said a senior official on Trump’s re-election effort, following news of the DOJ memo. “This will give the president [and others] something to play with for a while, but until Bill Barr kicks in or shuts up we’re still where we are. [have been]. “
Another senior Trump campaign aide, reacting Monday night, said he doubted the note was “important” because “the US attorney’s investigations take forever.”
While Barr’s memo may have left Trump’s political orbit missing, at the Justice Department, one prosecutor who spoke on condition of anonymity called it “shocking” that Barr is releasing it “without any proof of fraud ”. Barr’s memo was widely distributed to all American lawyers; the penal, civil rights and national security divisions of the Ministry of Justice; and the beleaguered FBI director Christopher Wray, whom President Donald Trump has subjected to extraordinary political pressure.
This was enough to trigger the resignation of the Justice Ministry’s electoral crimes section hours later, according to The New York Times.
“A nationwide appeal smacks of desperation,” the prosecutor told The Daily Beast. “They look far because they don’t have anything specific. If you had good evidence of fraud in Pennsylvania or Georgia, you would focus on that. The DOJ has so far not lent itself to any of the [Trump campaign] again claims, stating that nothing they have seen so far has any merit they are willing to link to.
But the prosecutor said the memo could do real damage by allowing “clear investigative steps.” It means “encouraging prosecutors to do things the public will notice”, throwing “red meat at the base of the stop-the-steal over the next few weeks, even if nothing changes the outcome.”
At a minimum, Barr’s memo “lends additional legitimacy to Trump’s attack on election results,” the prosecutor continued, “It’s all bad to get Americans to trust their democracy and respect election results. ”
The FBI declined to comment. The Trump campaign and White House spokespersons also did not respond immediately.
Barr’s memo capped a frenzied day with mounting attacks by Trump and Republicans on the country’s electoral system. And that foreshadowed a sharp and possibly divisive chapter to come, as one of America’s two main political parties is largely reluctant to accept the voters’ choice.
On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (RK.Y.) broadly accepted President Donald Trump’s comments that something bad had led him to lose the states of Georgia, Arizona, Nevada, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania by relatively narrow margins. And he called on the courts to rule on any allegation of fault. In Georgia, the two Republican senators now heading for the run-off election have launched a remarkable attack on the state’s Republican Secretary of State, for unclear innuendos about election irregularities – an accusation the secretary of state State rejected it in an equally remarkable setback. continued to send surrogates across the country to raise specious allegations of non-state and deceased voters voting, computer malfunctions and votes cast in the absence of election observers.
Collectively, the charges seemed designed to create the appearance of controversy and scandal where none yet exist. In recent days, numerous legal attempts to slow down or stop the counting of certain batches of ballots have failed not only in Nevada, but in Michigan and Pennsylvania – although this has not stopped the Trump campaign from filing. new federal action in Keystone state Monday night.
Internally, the Trump team and his allies had hoped Barr could fill that void. For days, outgoing President Donald Trump and several of his senior officials and long-time confidants privately insisted that the Justice Department had not been aggressive enough to intervene on Trump’s behalf in cases in question. courses in key states, according to two sources familiar with the situation. “Why isn’t it [DOJ] on that? ”the president asked, in one of many outbursts last week over his and the GOP’s completely unfounded allegations of the Democratic theft of the 2020 presidential election.
Barr seemed to recognize him. Before posting his memo on Monday, he met McConnell on the Hill. According to a source familiar with the matter, the department had received and was considering a dismissal from the Nevada Republican Party alleging thousands of cases of electoral fraud and an affidavit from a Pennsylvania postal worker obtained by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) alleging voting irregularities. According to two other officials, the department has largely viewed the president’s electoral legal battles in recent days as solely a campaign issue.
Daniel Stewart, former attorney for GOP Nevada governor Brian Sandoval, argued to the Daily Beast that – even if all the allegations in the affidavit were true – there is no way the problems described could explain Trump’s 36,000-vote deficit in the state. Trump’s performance in the state was generally consistent with past results and party registration numbers, he noted, indicating that nothing too strange had happened in Vegas last Tuesday.
Neither Stewart nor the Georgian Secretary of State have ruled out the possibility that a few people will be arrested and prosecuted for some sort of electoral misconduct. But both have defended the integrity of the elections in their respective states.
“Nothing that I saw, even if all the claims were true, would change the outcome of the election – come close to changing the election,” said Stewart. “You must be crazy enough to argue that there was fraud on a scale that meant Trump won Nevada. It defies belief.”
As for Barr’s memo, according to a person familiar with election investigations, the FBI normally takes the lead in the investigation into the election fraud allegation in coordination with the U.S. attorney’s office. At some point thereafter, the Directorate of Electoral Crimes Related to Public Integrity (BCE) of the Ministry of Justice would be consulted. The DOJ handbook presents a relatively clear path for the ECB to investigate “corruption of the electoral process” and this office normally advises lawyers not to take major investigative steps until after the election and certification of officials. results. But in his Monday night statement, Barr said lawyers could bypass those general guidelines and start investigating because “such a passive and delayed approach can lead to situations in which election faults cannot realistically be corrected.” according to Barr’s note.
This is just the latest attempt by the Trump administration to ignite a selfish hysteria over ghosts of voter fraud. In 2017, the administration created a commission on electoral fraud, only to see it shut down after being unable to find evidence.
That hasn’t stopped Barr from echoing Trump’s claims. He spent much of the post-pandemic 2020 insisting, out of “common sense”, that postal voting would open the door to fraud, another baseless claim. In September, Barr wrongly insisted that postal voting posed the end of a “secret ballot,” publicly distorting double-envelope measures and other electoral integrity measures in place. That same month, the department had to admit that Barr’s “inaccurate[ly] featured an article about the accusation of a Texan for tampering with 1,700 ballots.
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