Bill Barr was summoned for a meeting with Donald Trump on Tuesday after he said in an interview that the Justice Department did not find any evidence of widespread voter fraud.
A source briefed on the meeting said it was ‘intense’, according to a Wednesday evening report from ABC News.
NBC News reported that Trump had not ruled out firing Barr, but ‘people around’ the president were trying to make sure he did not. A firing would be politically explosive and bring the possibility of a damaging series of media appearances by Barr.
While the attorney general was already on White House grounds for a few hours on Tuesday for other meetings, Trump wanted to speak with him too.
During a press briefing Wednesday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said she did not know whether Barr and Trump had met since the report was published and declined to comment on if there were any impending personnel changes.
‘I’m not aware if they’ve spoken. I know the Attorney General was here yesterday for a pre-planned meeting with the Chief of Staff, and they discussed an array of issues. But I’m not aware if the President has spoken to him directly,’ McEnany told reporters.
In response to another question about if Trump still has ‘faith’ in Barr, McEnany said: ‘The President, if he has any personnel announcements, you will be the first to know it.’
In an interview with the AP on Tuesday, Barr said the Justice Department and FBI haven’t uncovered any evidence that would change the outcome of the election.
‘To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election,’ Barr said.
Following the meeting between Barr and Trump, a DOJ spokesperson sent out a statement claiming the media inaccurately characterized the attorney general’s comments from the interview.
Attorney General Bill Barr was summoned for a meeting with President Donald Trump following his revelation that the Justice Department found no evidence of widespread voter fraud
Leaving the White House: Barr was already at the White House Tuesday for other meetings when Trump demanded he also speak to his attorney general
Following the meeting, a DOJ spokesperson put out a statement claiming the media had misconstrued and ‘incorrectly reported’ Barr’s comments
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters during a press briefing Wednesday that she wasn’t aware if Barr and Trump had spoken since the report and declined to comment on if the president still has ‘confidence’ in Barr
‘Some media outlets have incorrectly reported that the Department has concluded its investigation of election fraud and announced an affirmative finding of no fraud in the election,’ the spokesperson said. ‘That is not what the Associated Press reported nor what the Attorney General stated.’
‘The Department will continue to receive and vigorously pursue all specific and credible allegations of fraud as expeditiously as possible,’ the statement read.
Joe Biden joked Tuesday evening that Barr should be enrolled in ‘witness protection’ after his comments to the AP.
While speaking to The New York Times, which published his comments Wednesday morning, Biden said with a laugh that Barr just called him ‘asking if I can get him in the witness protection program for endorsing me.’
Although Barr has not actually endorsed the Democrat, Biden is suggesting his revelations about the election essentially admit there are no avenues for Trump to overturn the results.
The former vice president is also mocking the angry mob that could be after Barr as rumors swirl that he’ll be the next to go with just a few weeks left in Trump’s administration.
Barr’s comments come despite Trump’s repeated claims that the election was stolen and ‘rigged’ as he blasts out clips of a series of claims of voter fraud.
Trump also still refuses to concede to Biden.
The comments are especially direct coming from one of the president’s most ardent allies.
Before the election, Barr repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voter fraud could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.
Biden said more than anything, he feels accomplished in his presidential bid by being the one to boot Trump from office.
‘I feel like I’ve done something good for the country by making sure that Donald Trump is not going to be president for four more years,’ Biden told The Times.
‘But there’s been no moment of elation,’ he added, referencing the uncertain times of the pandemic and circumstances with a president who refuses to admit defeat. ‘It’s just one of those moments. There’s a lot of work to do. I’m just focused on getting some things done as quickly as I can.’
Barr issued a directive last month to U.S. attorneys allowing them to pursue ‘substantial allegations’ of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified.
That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding DOJ policy that normally prohibits such overt actions before election certification.
Joe Biden joked in an interview Tuesday evening that Barr will need to be put into the witness protection program for his comments
Soon after Barr issued the directive, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.
The Trump campaign legal team led by Rudy Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system.
They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that Republican poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened.
Giuliani and fellow Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis blasted Barr’s comments in a statement.
‘With all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance of a Department of Justice investigation,’ they wrote.
‘We have gathered ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined,’ the duo continued. ‘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. The Justice Department also hasn’t 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. 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,’ Giuliani and Ellis concluded.
The claims of voter fraud have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.
Trump has tweeted about Dominion Voting Systems 24 times and claims the election was ‘rigged’
Trump has railed against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. Trump recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but has still refused to admit he lost.
The issues Trump’s campaign and its allies have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.
But they’ve also requested federal probes into the claims. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela ‘at the direction of Hugo Chavez,’ – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to ‘blow up’ Georgia with a ‘biblical’ court filing.
Barr didn’t name Powell specifically but said: ‘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.
He said people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said such a remedy for those complaints would be a top-down audit conducted by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.
‘There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all, and people don’t like something they want the Department of Justice to come in and ‘investigate,” Barr said.
He said first of all there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.
‘Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. They are not systemic allegations and. 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.’
Giuliani and Trump last week discussed a potential presidential pardon for Giuliani, the New York Times reported – a possible indication that Giuliani is banking on the end of Trump’s term. Giuliani denied the report.