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Barr authorizes Justice to probe any 'substantial allegations' of voter fraud

Attorney General William BarrBill BarrNew DOJ rule could allow executions by electrocution, firing squad Clyburn: Biden falling short on naming Black figures to top posts Five federal inmates scheduled for execution before Inauguration Day MORE has authorized the Department of Justice to investigate any "substantial allegations" of voter fraud in the 2020 election.

Barr wrote that investigations “may be conducted 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.”

Barr also said in his memo that "nothing here should be taken as any indication that the Department has concluded that voting irregularities have impacted the outcome of any election," but added "such inquiries and reviews may be conducted 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."

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The memo was first reported by The Associated Press on Monday evening.

The New York Times reported that the head of voter fraud investigations at the department, Richard Pilger, stepped down from his post hours after Barr's announcement. 

President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  New DOJ rule could allow executions by electrocution, firing squad MORE was projected by every major news outlet as the winner of the presidential election on Saturday, but President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden MORE has indicated he will not concede, alleging without evidence that there was widespread voter fraud.

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. 

Some Republicans have backed Trump's claims of voter fraud or his right to challenge the count, while others have moved on to congratulating Biden on winning the White House.

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“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,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden's climate plans can cut emissions and also be good politics Acting Defense secretary makes surprise trip to Somalia As Biden administration ramps up, Trump legal effort drags on MORE (R-Ky.) said during a floor speech Monday.

Barr, who has been repeatedly criticized for politicizing the Justice Department under Trump, met with McConnell on Monday. The attorney general declined to comment as he was leaving McConnell's office.

Top Trump campaign officials have indicated they are willing to appeal state court decisions that do not go in their favor all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.

The campaign accuses 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."

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Biden has already begun the process of transitioning to the presidency, declaring on Monday that "this election is over."

Like Trump, Barr has previously pushed misleading claims about voting, including saying that the widespread use of mail-in ballots opens the process up to rampant fraud.

Jordain Carney contributed.