Attorney General William Barr sent a memo to federal prosecutors authorizing them to pursue "substantial allegations" of voting irregularities if they are able to find any.
On Saturday, projected victories in Pennsylvania and Nevada gave Democrat Joe Biden the electoral votes to clearly become president-elect. President Trump and allies like Rudy Giuliani have loudly been claiming there was widespread voter fraud, without providing evidence.
Barr's memo, obtained by The Associated Press, states 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." Any allegations that would "clearly not impact the outcome of a federal election" should be delayed until after the elections are certified, Barr added, with prosecutors then opening preliminary inquiries to see if there is evidence of wrongdoing.
Barr did not share any examples of alleged voter fraud in his memo. Heading into the election, Barr echoed Trump's claims about mail-in ballots being easily manipulated. AP notes that election officials across the country — Democrats and Republicans alike — have said the 2020 election went pretty smoothly, especially during a pandemic, despite some instances of broken machines and lost ballots.
In response to the memo, the Justice Department official who oversees voter fraud investigations, Richard Pilger, stepped down, The New York Times reports.
Biden campaign attorney Bob Bauer said in a statement it was "deeply unfortunate that Attorney General Barr chose to issue a memorandum that will only fuel the 'specious, speculative, fanciful, or far-fetched claims' he professes to guard again. Those are the very kind of claims that the president and his lawyers are making unsuccessfully every day, as their lawsuits are laughed out of one court after another. But, in the end, American democracy is stronger than any clumsy and cynical partisan political scheme."