Sparking immediate and widespread speculation that he will soon become just the latest top official ousted for publicly countering President Donald Trump, U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday told the Associated Press that the Justice Department has not found any evidence of voter fraud that would impact the result of the 2020 presidential election.
"To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election," Barr said of the November 3 contest in which President-elect Joe Biden's decisive victory denied Trump a second term. In the wake of his defeat, the president and his campaign have made unfounded fraud claims and filed numerous lawsuits even as states have certified their results.
Barr, who had boosted Trump's baseless attacks on the security of voting by mail ahead of the election and amid a pandemic, was set to attend a previously scheduled meeting at the White House later Tuesday. The attorney general told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been investigating complaints related to the election, which saw record-setting early and absentee voting.
"Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. They are not systemic allegations... And those have been run down; they are being run down," Barr said. "Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."
Trump and his campaign have called for federal law enforcement to investigate their allegations of mass voter fraud. On Sunday, the president said on Fox News that the Department of Justice and the FBI were "missing in action" in terms of addressing his claims. As the AP detailed:
Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information, and election software created in Venezuela "at the direction of Hugo Chavez,"—the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to "blow up" Georgia with a "biblical" court filing.
Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: "There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the [Department of Homeland Security] and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven't seen anything to substantiate that," Barr said.
The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) tweeted in response to the report: "Not even AG Bill Barr, one of Trump's most notorious enablers, is willing to keep up the pretense of fraud in the 2020 election. That says a lot."
Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said in a statement that "as President Trump continues to use the courts to pursue baseless post-election lawsuits, we are pleased to see Attorney General Barr acknowledge the fact that fraud did not impact this election."
"Barr's statements create needed distance between the Justice Department and President Trump's post-election attacks on our democratic process," Clarke added. "The uncontroverted fact is that there is no fraud in our elections and this has been repeatedly confirmed by DHS, the FBI, cybersecurity officials, and state and local election officials."
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) quipped to reporters, "I guess he's the next one to be fired." The senator was far from alone in anticipating Barr's firing, with some political observers even speculating that he could be replaced by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani.
Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, a Trump campaign senior legal adviser and attorney for the president, issued a joined statement Tuesday responding to Barr's remarks, doubling down on their fraud allegations and saying that "with all due respect to the attorney general, there hasn't been any semblance of a Department of Justice investigation."
Vowing to charge ahead with their mission of "ensuring that every legal vote is counted and every illegal vote is not," Giuliani and Ellis added that "again, with the greatest respect to the attorney general, his opinion appears to be without any knowledge or investigation of the substantial irregularities and evidence of systemic fraud."
Noting their claim that the campaign has "gathered ample evidence of illegal voting" in several states, Charles Idelson of National Nurses United pointed out that "they were laughed out of court everywhere."
Despite the mounting losses, the Trump campaign filed suit in Wisconsin on Tuesday in a bid to throw out over 221,000 ballots from two of the state's most Democratic counties, Dane and Milwaukee. The move came a day after the state certified its results following the completion of a partial recount requested by the campaign.
Though Trump won Wisconsin in 2016, this year the state went to Biden. The president-elect's campaign told the AP that the new suit is "completely baseless and not rooted in facts on the ground."
"The hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites targeted by this lawsuit did nothing wrong," said Biden campaign spokesperson Nate Evans. "They simply followed longstanding guidance from elections officials issued under the law."