United States Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday upheld Donald Trump’s unfounded claims on election irregularities and authorised American attorneys to investigate “substantial” allegations of voter fraud before the results of the presidential race are certified, AP reported.
Trump has not yet conceded the election. Instead, he continues to claim, without evidence, that there has been a multi-state conspiracy by Democrats to rig the vote tally in his opponent President-elect Joe Biden’s favour. Although counting of votes in the United States is still underway, Biden holds a sizeable lead in multiple battleground states and there has been no indication of improperly counted votes so far that would shift the outcome.
In a memo to US attorneys, 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”. But he warned that “specious, speculative, fanciful or far-fetched claims should not be a basis for initiating federal inquiries”, according to The New York Times.
“Given that voting in our current elections has now concluded, I authorise you to pursue substantial allegations of voting and vote tabulation irregularities prior to the certification of elections in your jurisdictions,” Barr wrote. States have until December 8 to resolve election disputes, including recounts and court contests over the results.
The Electoral College is slated to formally confirm Joe Biden’s victory on December 14 and the Democrat will be sworn into office late January.
Barr’s directive to initiate legal investigation is against the US Justice Department’s longstanding policies intended to keep law enforcement from affecting the outcome of an election. Critics condemned his order as a “political act” that undermined the department’s independence. Richard Pilger, the Justice Department official who oversees investigations of voter fraud, stepped down from the post within hours after the memo was issued.
Trump, meanwhile, continued his unrelenting criticism of the US media, the Democrats and the voting process, claiming the mainstream press were so inaccurate in their projections that it amounted to “much more than voter and campaign finance suppression”. The incumbent president demanded the media be called out for alleged election interference.
In a series of tweets, Trump said that all news publications and channels, including Fox News – which is pro-Republican – had tampered with the election. “They were so far off in their polling, and in their attempt to suppress – that they should be called out for Election Interference,” Trump said. “ABC/WaPo [Washington Post] had me down 17 points in Wisconsin, the day before the election, and I WON! In Iowa, the polls had us four points down, and I won by 8.2 percent!” he said. “Fox News and Quinnipiac were wrong on everything.”
He called it “the worst polling ever,” claiming that they will be “back in four years to do it again”. “This is much more than voter and campaign finance suppression,” he said.
Earlier on Monday, Trump’s campaign filed a lawsuit to block Pennsylvania officials from certifying Biden’s victory in the state, Al Jazeera reported. They alleged that Pennsylvania’s mail-in voting system violated the US Constitution by creating “an illegal two-tiered voting system” where voting in person was subject to more oversight than voting by mail.
The Trump campaign has filed several lawsuits since claiming the election results were flawed that were dismissed in Michigan and Georgia.