the national interest

William Barr Not Sure If Trump’s Plan for His Supporters to Vote Twice Is Legal

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In an interview yesterday evening with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Attorney General William Barr avidly defended President Trump’s efforts to undermine the 2020 election. Barr not only offered his customary defense of his boss’s wild, paranoid lies, but repeatedly contradicted conclusions by his own government.

Trump has claimed mail-in voting is ripe for interference by foreign countries. His reasoning is that Trump voters are less concerned about the coronavirus than Biden voters, and thus more willing to vote in person, so anything he can do to complicate or disqualify mail-in voting during the pandemic will help him. Barr has claimed that foreign countries could mail in thousands of fake ballots. Blitzer asked Barr what he’s basing that on. “Logic,” he explained.

In fact, both U.S. intelligence and election-security officials have said they’ve detected no such foreign plot, and that it would be extraordinarily difficult to carry out. “The hyperlocal nature of ballots and elections is a natural barrier to fraudulent schemes, especially for national campaigns. Mail-in ballots are also scrutinized closely; they must be signed, and elections officials compare the signatures to those already in voters’ registration files,” reported the New York Times last week, after speaking to federal election-security officials who have studied the problem closely but apparently lack Barr’s powers of logic.

Blitzer asked Barr about Russian interference. He conceded it was at least hypothetically possible: “I accept that there is some preliminary activity that suggests that they might try again.”

Preliminary? Might? It is happening, right now. American intelligence reported earlier this month on ongoing Russian election interference. I have put the verbs in boldface. Notice they are all in the present, not the future, tense:

We assess that Russia is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President Biden and what it sees as an anti-Russia “establishment.” This is consistent with Moscow’s public criticism of him when he was Vice President for his role in the Obama Administration’s policies on Ukraine and its support for the anti-Putin opposition inside Russia. For example, pro-Russia Ukrainian parliamentarian Andriy Derkach is spreading claims about corruption – including through publicizing leaked phone calls – to undermine former Vice President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party. Some Kremlin-linked actors are also seeking to boost President Trump’s candidacy on social media and Russian television.

And Blitzer asked Barr about Trump’s advice yesterday that his voters should all vote twice, first by mail, and then again in person. Barr pleaded ignorance as to the specifics of that particular act.

Notice that Barr is able to confidently assess the likelihood of mail-voting fraud without any facts, simply by “logic.” Yet his powers of logic offer him no guide at all as to whether it’s legal to vote twice in a North Carolina election.

Even without familiarity with the specifics of North Carolina election law, logic would suggest that intentionally violating the law just to see if the authorities can stop you is not allowed. Just in general, violating the law to see how it’s enforced is not allowed. Or maybe somebody should break into Barr’s office just to test the effectiveness of his security system and see what he thinks.

Bill Barr Not Sure If Trump’s Plan to Vote Twice Is Legal