Update (2140ET): In response to AG Barr's decision, NYTimes reports that Richard Pilger - who oversees voter fraud investigations - has quit:
"Having familiarized myself with the new policy and its ramifications... I must regretfully resign from my role as director of the Election Crimes Branch."
Does it not seem odd that when asked to investigate voter fraud, the gentleman who is in charge of investigating voter fraud chooses to resign rather than do his f**king job?
Perhaps it was his alleged involvement in the Lois Lerner IRS targeting Tea Party groups debacle that triggered this resignation?
* * *
In a day when numerous lawsuits were filed challenging the outcome of the presidential election, and when prominent Republicans such as Mitch McConnell finally came out in support of Trump's contention that the election was rigged, late on Monday Attorney General William Barr authorized the Justice Department to launch a probe into "substantial allegations" of voter fraud in the 2020 election, the AP first reported.
In a letter to US attorneys across the country, Barr said they could conduct investigations “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.”
According to the Washington Times, this is an unusual move, since Justice Department policy prohibits any action that could influence the outcome of an election until the vote is formally certified. But the Justice Department is responsible for ensuring the integrity of federal elections.
Barr’s memo comes days after presumptive President-elect Joseph R. Biden was declared the winner by several media outlets in the 2020 presidential election. President Trump has not conceded and has launched several legal efforts challenging the results in states where the voting margins are razor-thin. By granting prosecutors the power to pursue such cases, U.S. attorneys around the country could give Trump more ammunition for his lawsuit.
The DOJ's action, which many republicans will claim is long overdue, comes after Republicans in recent days turned up the heat on Barr to take some action in response to the voter fraud allegations. Earlier on Monday, Barr reportedly met with McConnell on Monday.
On Friday, nearly 40 Republican members of Congress sent a letter to the AG asking him to get to the bottom of the voter fraud claims.
"What are you doing to ensure the integrity of the voting and counting process right now?” the Republicans asked Mr. Barr in their letter. The lawmakers also called on the attorney general to commit to “using all the resources” at his disposal to ensure only legal votes are being counted “in a fully transparent manner.”
Also last week, the Nevada Republican Party sent a criminal referral to the Justice Department claiming they have received reports of at least 3,062 instances of voter fraud in the battleground state.
“We expect that number to grow substantially,” the party said in a tweet. “Thousands of individuals have been identified who appear to have violated the law by casting ballots after they moved from NV.”
The Trump campaign has filed lawsuits in several key battleground states that Biden won, asking local judges to either invalidate or stop counting mail-in ballots, a record number of which were cast this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier in the day several prominent Republicans backed Trump's claims of voter fraud or his right to challenge the count, including Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell: “Obviously no states have yet certified their election results. We have at least one or two states that are already on track for a recount and I believe the president may have legal challenges underway in at least five states,” McConnell said during a floor speech Monday.
The Trump admin has also accused local election officials of not allowing their representatives to watch vote counts and claiming illegal votes were cast in states including Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania.
“You don’t take these positions because you want an honest election,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said during a press conference on Monday. “What we are asking for right now is patience as we explore these equal protection claims among others."
As a reminder, states have until Dec. 8 to resolve election issues, including recounts and legal battles. The Electoral College members meet on Dec. 14 to finalize the outcome.