Top federal prosecutor resigns after Pennsylvania election fraud investigation

The U.S. attorney who was widely criticized for the September announcement of an investigation into discarded Pennsylvania ballots announced his resignation from the Justice Department Tuesday.

“For the past three years, I have had the great fortune to work with the highly skilled attorneys and staff in the Middle District of Pennsylvania,” David Freed said in a statement Tuesday. “It is an office blessed with experienced and dedicated leaders, and colleagues who truly understand the importance of working together for the benefit of their fellow citizens.”

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Freed previously made headlines in September when he took the highly unusual step of announcing that his office was investigating the discarding of mail-in ballots in Luzerne County. The full Justice Department press release about an ongoing investigation was highlighted as an atypical move, as was Freed’s announcement that seven of the ballots were reportedly cast for President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package Trump calls Milley a 'f---ing idiot' over Afghanistan withdrawal First rally for far-right French candidate Zemmour prompts protests, violence MORE.

The president and his allies seized on the case as evidence for Trump’s frequent claims that mail-in voting would enable widespread voter fraud. Trump has continued to promote such claims since his loss in November, particularly in Pennsylvania, one of several states that flipped from 2016 and clinched President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenChina eyes military base on Africa's Atlantic coast: report Biden orders flags be flown at half-staff through Dec. 9 to honor Dole Biden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package MORE’s victory.

Peter Smith, who served as U.S. attorney for the Middle District during the Obama administration, told the Times-Leader in September that Freed was “an honorable guy [but] it is, I think, not appropriate to give details. I would not have done it if I was U.S. Attorney.”

First Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Brandler, who has served with the U.S. attorney’s office for more than three decades, is set to replace Freed, according to PennLive.