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White House chief of staff knocks FBI director over testimony on election fraud
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Friday criticized FBI Director Christopher Wray over his testimony to Congress that he has not seen evidence of widespread voter fraud in a major election.
"With all due respect to Director Wray, he has a hard time finding emails in his own FBI let alone figuring out whether there is any kind of voter fraud," Meadows said on "CBS This Morning" on Friday.
"This is a very different case," Meadows continued. "The rules are being changed and so what I'm suggesting is, perhaps he can drill down on the investigation that just started, others that we're seeing in North Carolina and other places where multiple ballots, duplicate ballots, are being sent out. Perhaps he needs to get involved on the ground and he would change his testimony on Capitol Hill."
Wray's testimony on Thursday undercut President Trump's assertion that an expansion of mail-in voting during the 2020 election would invite widespread fraud into the election. Experts say there is not evidence of meaningful voter fraud in mail-in voting.
"We have not seen, historically, any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it's by mail or otherwise," Wray said during a hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Meadows's remarks came during an exchange where he defended Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses in 2020 as he raised suspicions about mail-in voting.
The White House chief of staff said that Trump commits to a peaceful transition of power as long as the election is "fair," echoing similar remarks from White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany the day prior.
"I think he commits to a peaceful transfer as long as it's a fair election and I think that even the lead-up into this was talking about that very subject," Meadows said. "We now know that we have a Department of Justice investigation in the ballots that were discarded from veterans in Pennsylvania. That's very troubling."
Meadows was referencing a Justice Department announcement on Thursday that officials had begun an inquiry into a handful of military ballots that had been found "discarded" in Pennsylvania.
The department first noted in the statement that the ballots had been cast for Trump, but later amended it to say seven were cast for Trump and two had been "resealed." The development has been seized upon by Trump's allies while raising questions among election experts.
Meadows's remarks on Wray follow Trump's own criticism of the FBI chief last week. Trump would not offer a vote of confidence in Wray after rebuking his testimony to Congress about foreign election interference and domestic terrorism threats in a separate congressional hearing last week.
Meadows later on Friday told reporters at the White House that he couldn't speak to whether Trump still has confidence in Wray. But he expressed dismay with what he described as the FBI director's lack of transparency, citing FBI text messages included in recent federal court filings in the case involving former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
"I was very, very disappointed to see some of the text messages and emails that came out yesterday and some of the discovery that was put forth," Meadows said, citing the difficulty of Congress in obtaining documents from the bureau. "It's time for Director Wray to quit, in my mind, playing footsie with transparency and deliver those documents."