Attorney General William Barr authorized the Department of Justice (DOJ) to pursue what he called “substantial allegations” of voter fraud.
A memo from AG Barr to U.S. prosecutors nationwide said they could investigate “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 state,” the Washington Times reported.
The move comes less than a week after Election Day and just days after a number of media outlets declared Democrat Joe Biden the presumptive president-elect, despite numerous lawsuits from the Trump campaign alleging voter fraud and suppression. The Associated Press reported that Barr’s action gives prosecutors the authority to go around established DOJ policy that would usually prevent such moves prior to the election being certified.
Barr said to delay investigating any allegations that would “clearly not impact the outcome of a federal election” until after the elections are certified.
“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.
In the memo, Barr argued that, in some cases, investigations could not be delayed until the election is certified.
The Associate Press reported that a DOJ official said neither Trump nor any White House official or lawmaker asked Barr to issue the memo.
Election issues, including recounts and legal battles, must be resolved in individual states by December 8. The Electoral College members convene on December 14 to determine a final outcome.
Bob Bauer, Biden’s campaign attorney, said in a statement that the Attorney General’s actions were “deeply unfortunate” and would only fuel the “specious, speculative, fanciful or far-fetched claims he professes to guard against.”
“Those are the very kind of claims that the president and his lawyers are making unsuccessfully every day, as their lawsuits are laughed out of one court after another,” Bauer said. “But, in the end, American democracy is stronger than any clumsy and cynical partisan political scheme.”
President Trump has not conceded the election, despite pressure from numerous media outlets, as well as top Democrats.
Earlier this year, AG Barr warned that “people are playing with fire” when it comes to widespread mail-in voting, adding that the concerns are not new.
“A bipartisan commission chaired by Jimmy Carter and James Baker said back in 2009 that mail-in voting is fraught with the risk of fraud and coercion,” Barr said.