No member of Donald Trump’s Cabinet has been closer to him in aggressive partisanship and a willingness to see lurid progressive conspiracies than Attorney General William Barr. And quite obviously Barr’s Department of Justice is a potent legal weapon for any embattled president alleging criminal activities by his enemies. So it is a terrible blow to Trump’s flagging claims that he was robbed of reelection by massive election fraud that Barr has publicly said his investigators have discovered no such thing, at least on a scale that would have affected the outcome. He admitted this finding in an interview with the Associated Press:
“To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election,” Barr told the AP.
The comments are especially direct coming from Barr, who has been one of the president’s most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voter fraud could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.
Barr noted that litigation over alleged election irregularities would not usually trigger a federal criminal investigation, though of course Trump and his legal team have been alleging horrific and intentional crimes, not just technical problems or miscounts. The AG did go out of his way to knock down one conspiracy theory that would, if true, constitute criminal activity:
“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 DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that,” Barr said.
This is an allusion to the wild claims of former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell that vote tallying machines designed by Venezuelan “communists” were used to tabulate votes in some overseas lair and steal the election for Joe Biden.
Trump’s remaining lawyers squawked loudly and immediately about Barr’s announcement, as the Hill reports:
“With all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance of a Department of Justice investigation,” Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis said, complaining that the department has not thoroughly vetted their claims of irregularities in “at least six states.”
“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,” Giuliani and Ellis said.
It will be interesting to what the president — who has spent much of the day tweeting and retweeting scenes of Republican state legislative hearings on “election fraud” as covered by OAN — will have to say about Barr’s remarks. You have to figure the subject came up in a meeting the two men had yesterday at the White House.