Richard Pilger, the Department of Justice official who oversees voter fraud investigations, has stepped down after Attorney General Bill Barr issued a memo backing Donald Trump’s baseless accusations.
The NYT reports: “Mr. Barr said he had authorized ‘specific instances’ of investigative steps in some cases. He made clear in a carefully worded memo that prosecutors had the authority to investigate, but he warned that ‘specious, speculative, fanciful or far-fetched claims should not be a basis for initiating federal inquiries.’ Mr. Barr’s directive ignored the Justice Department’s longstanding policies intended to keep law enforcement from affecting the outcome of an election. And it followed a move weeks before the election in which the department lifted a prohibition on voter fraud investigations before an election.”
Wrote Pilger: “Having familiarized myself with the new policy and its ramifications, I must regretfully resign from my role as director of the Election Crimes Branch.”
Barr visited the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday. Shortly thereafter, McConnell threw his support behind Trump’s unfounded efforts.
Said McConnell on Monday: “Obviously, no states have yet certified their election results. We have at least one or two states that are already on track for a recount. And I believe the president may have legal challenges under way in at least five states. The core principle here is not complicated. In the United States of America, all legal ballots must be counted. Any illegal ballots must not be counted. The process should be transparent or observable by all sides, and the courts are here to work through concerns. Our institutions are actually built for this. We have the system in place to consider concerns, and President Trump is 100% within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options. Let’s go back 20 years ago. 20 years ago, when Florida came down to a very thin margin, we saw Vice President Gore exhaust the legal system and wait to concede until December.”
“More recently, weeks after the media had called President Bush’s reelection in 2004, Democrats baselessly disputed Ohio’s electors and delayed the process during Congress,” McConnell added. “In 2016, the election law saw recounts or legal challenges in several states. If any major irregularities occurred this time of a magnitude that would affect the outcome, then every single American should want them to be brought to light, and if Democrats feel confident they have not occurred, they should have no reason to fear any extra scrutiny. We have the tools and institutions we need to address any concerns. The president has every right to look into allegations and to request recounts under the law.”
“And notably, the Constitution gives no role in this process to wealthy media corporations. The projections and commentary of the press do not get veto power over the legal rights of any citizen, including the President of the United States. Now, more broadly, Mr. President, let’s not have any lectures, no lectures about how the president should immediately, cheerfully accept preliminary election results from the same characters who just spent four years refusing to accept the validity of the last election. And who insinuated that this one would be illegitimate, too, if they lost again.”
Georgia GOP Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue called on Georgia’s Secretary of State to resign, ‘citing “failures’ in the election process but not providing any specific evidence to support their claims,” Politico reports. “Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger responded in a statement Monday saying he would not resign, and defended his office’s handling of the election. He said the election was a ‘resounding success’ from an administration perspective. He highlighted his office’s briefings and updates to argue that they had conducted the process with transparency.”
TIME reports: “Judges have already tossed out or ruled against Trump campaign suits in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Georgia, and Michigan. State officials continue to count ballots in Nevada, North Carolina and Arizona, but the Trump campaign has not yet filed post-election litigation in those states.”
Read about all the lawsuits HERE.