After a full week of the liberal U.S. news media criticizing Republicans and Trump campaign officials’ allegations of election abnormalities and possible voter fraud, tonight, U.S. Attorney William Barr has authorized a Justice Department investigation into those allegations.
“Last week, our nation once again demonstrated the strength of our democracy as more than 140 million Americans cast ballots to elect their leaders,” Barr said in a statement. “I want to thank each of you and your teams for your extraordinary efforts to ensure that all Americans could exercise this most fundamental of rights with confidence and in safety. Now that the voting has concluded, it is imperative that the American people can trust that our elections were conducted in such a way that the outcomes accurately reflect the will of the voters.”
Barr’s memo made it clear that the states have the primary responsibility to conduct and supervise elections under our Constitution and the laws enacted by Congress, but that the United States Department of Justice has an obligation to ensure that federal elections are conducted in such a way that the American people can have full confidence in their electoral process and their government.
The Department’s general policies with regard to election fraud investigations are contained in the Justice Manual. Those policies require, among other things, consultation with the Public Integrity Section’s Election Crimes Branch in some instances. Those policies already allow preliminary inquiries, including witness interviews, to be conducted without ECB consultation. In instances in which they are consulted, the ECB’s general practice has been to counsel that overt investigative steps ordinarily should not be taken until the election in question has been concluded, its results certified, and all recounts and election contests concluded.
Such a passive and delayed enforcement approach can result in situations in which election misconduct cannot realistically be rectified. Moreover, this ECBpractice has never been a hard and fast rule, and case-specific determinations and judgments must be made.
“While most allegations of purported election misconduct are of such a scale that they would not impact the outcome of an election and, thus, the investigation can appropriately be deferred that is not always the case,” Barr said. “Furthermore, any concerns that overt actions taken by the Department could inadvertently impact an election are greatly minimized, if they exist at all, once voting has concluded, even ifelection certification has not yet been completed.”
Barr said that the investigation into “substantial” allegations of voting and vote tabulation irregularities in some districts are in need of a review.
While U.S.Attorneys maintain their inherent authority to conduct inquiries and investigations as they deem appropriate, it will likely be prudent to commence any election related matters as a preliminary inquiry so as to assess whether available evidence warrants further investigative steps.
“While itis imperative that credible allegations be addressed in a timely and effective manner, it is equally imperative that Department personnel exercise appropriate caution and maintain the Department’s absolute commitment to fairness, neutrality, and non-partisanship,” Barr said.