U.S. Attorney General William Barr testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, in Washington, July 28, 2020.
Chip Somodevilla | POOL | Reuters
The U.S. Department of Justice has not found evidence of large-scale ballot fraud that would reverse President-elect Joe Biden‘s projected win over President Donald Trump in the election, Attorney General William Barr said in a new interview Tuesday.
Barr’s statement to the Associated Press undercuts claims by Trump, his lawyers and many of his political allies that he was the victim of massive voting fraud that swindled the Republican incumbent out of a win over the Democratic challenger.
“To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election,” Barr told the AP.
Barr, who is head of the DOJ, told the news wire service that federal prosecutors and FBI agents have looked into complaints they have received about possible fraud. But investigators have not found problems with anywhere near the number of ballots that would have to be invalidated to deny Biden a win.
“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. They are not systemic allegations … And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said.
“Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on,” said the attorney general.
Barr after Election Day had authorized federal prosecutors to look into any “substantial” voting irregularities or fraud allegations that were brought to their attention before the presidential race is certified.
Shortly after the Associated Press published its story, Barr was seen entering the White House. There had been no previously scheduled meeting between Barr and Trump on Tuesday. NBC News reported that he was at the White House for a matter unrelated to his comments.
Barr in the AP interview pointedly dismissed a conspiracy theory promoted by the lawyer Sidney Powell, a former member of the Trump campaign’s legal team, who has claimed that vote counting machines were rigged in Georgia and other battleground states to give Biden wins there.
“There’s been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that,” Barr said, without identifying Powell by name.
Security officials in Trump’s administration have publicly defended the integrity of the election, calling it “the most secure in American history.”
Powell was fired from Trump’s legal team last week after repeatedly making claims about the voting machines.
Shortly after the Associated Press published its article, Trump again tweeted a claim about purported election fraud.
“Hope everybody is watching @OANN right now. Other media afraid to show,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “People are coming forward like never before. Large truck carrying hundreds of thousands of fraudulent (FAKE) ballots to a voting center? TERRIBLE – SAVE AMERICA!”
A DOJ spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC about Barr’s comments.
Trump’s top campaign lawyers, Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, dismissed Barr’s comments.
“With all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance of a Department of Justice investigation,” Giuliani and Ellis said in a joint statement.
“We have gathered ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined. We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ.”
Giuliani and Ellis also said that the DOJ has not “audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth.”
“Nonetheless, we will continue our pursuit of the truth through the judicial system and state legislatures, and continue toward the Constitution’s mandate and ensuring that every legal vote is counted and every illegal vote is not,” the lawyers said.
“Again, with the greatest respect to the Attorney General, his opinion appears to be without any knowledge or investigation of the substantial irregularities and evidence of systemic fraud.”
Biden’s transition team did not immediately respond to CNBC’s requests for comment.
Biden, the former vice president, is projected to win 306 votes in the Electoral College, 36 more electoral votes than he needs to clinch the presidency. The Electoral College is set to meet Dec. 14 to select the president.
Trump’s legal team and its allies have repeatedly lost or withdrawn lawsuits that sought to invalidate votes for Biden in several states that the Republican president would need to win in order to overturn his opponent’s expected win.
Giuliani, has suggested that state legislatures could essentially ignore popular votes tallies showing wins for Biden, and appoint slates of electors for Trump to the Electoral College.